Bits & Bytes

How I Became an Author

by Jamilah Samian

Photo by Chris Blakeley on Flickr

[The author used to live in the Middle East with her family once upon a time.] 

In 1998, I moved to the Middle East with my husband and kids. I had, until then, ran a lucrative home based business.

In a country which did not recognise my Malaysian driver’s license and prohibited expatriate spouses from work without special permits which were, by all accounts, difficult to obtain, I was soon bored to tears.

After some soul-searching, I decided to try my hand at writing. After all, I told myself, I have always had good grades with my essays at school.

I approached a local magazine and they welcome me to try an article. I submitted it a week after.

Several days later, the editor rang me up. “You don’t know the fundamentals of journalism,” he said.

The words stung. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Did you butcher my story?”

“I can understand how upset you are at what I said because that’s exactly how I felt when someone commented on my writing when I first became a writer. But,” he went on, “I do believe that you have the heart and mind of a writer.”

“I’ll show him what a good writer I am,” I thought, my pride wounded.

It didn’t take me long to start on a long distance freelance journalism course which I completed in a quarter of the time (I was given two years and I did it in six months) with Distinction.

I was soon writing for an English Malaysian daily and a couple of English magazines.

In 2003, I decided to go one step further. Writing articles had become less of a challenge; I needed something that would test my mental stamina further. I decided to write a book.

It took me two years to complete my first book “Cool Mom, Super Dad” and along the way, the difficulties that came my way were such that it did cross my mind to throw in the towel.

Three things kept me going and made my dream of becoming an author a reality.

First, I am passionate about writing and I chose a subject which I really care about.

Second, I’ve been raised by parents who made me believe that I could do anything.

Third, I’m married to a man who would ask, “What will the kids say?” each time I wondered aloud if I should call it quits.

If you are an aspiring author and wish for some advice on how to get your book published, I find Mary Embree’s input spot-on with my own experience. I came across her advice only after I have completed my book project and signed a book deal with the publisher.

About Jamilah Samian

Jamilah has written 543 articles.

Jamilah Samian is an author and speaker.

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