Interview by Nicole Melanson ~
Sadaf Farooqi is a freelance writer of Islamic non-fiction and a homeschooling mother of 3, based in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a postgraduate Masters degree in Computer Science and a diploma in Islamic education.
Sadaf runs a personal blog called Sadaf’s Space, and currently writes professionally for OnIslam.net. In the past, she has written for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine, Saudi Gazette and MuslimMatters.org. Some of Sadaf’s articles on marriage have been published as a book titled Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AS A WRITER?
In 2006, I found myself staying at home with my first baby. Often, I’d Google solutions to first-time-mommy-related challenges and problems, only to land on and read personal blogs penned by experienced mothers. So I ended up reading many articles and blogs in my spare time.
Eventually, the idea came to me that I could also make use of my spare time by starting a blog myself, as I had been an avid writer since childhood. A year or so after I began blogging, I started writing Islamic articles for an online content mill as well. That allowed my writing to be showcased to a wider audience, which garnered me my next blogging opportunity, and so on.
WHAT IS YOUR LATEST BOOK OR CURRENT PROJECT?
My first book came out in early 2012. It is basically a compilation of some of my past articles on marriage, parenting and homemaking.
I also still write on my blog, and average 4-5 articles per month for OnIslam.net.
However, I consider unschooling my 3 children to be my primary and most important “project” during this phase of my life.
WHAT IS YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT LIKE?
I have a small, glass-top table in my bedroom near the window, which has an iMac and Internet device upon it – that’s my entire “workspace”.
I live in an apartment in a commercial, urban setting, so noise from the shops in the street downstairs is something that I am used to. My children engage in independent play and self-learning activities in our family room throughout the day, coming to me as and when they need to. Combined with the street sounds from downstairs and my children’s incessant bubbly chatter, my work environment is anything but serene, with the fleeting, occasional silence and my concentration often broken by a child’s tantrums, crying, and/or screaming.
I like being amidst this hustle and bustle, and seldom crave “peace and quiet”. I am so used to interruptions that I do not even consider them to be “interruptions” any more!
WHEN DO YOU WORK? WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
I usually work from late midmorning till early evening (after which my husband comes home), sporadically and very casually. Because I love what I do, I hardly ever get stressed out about my work, nor do I follow a strictly structured schedule.
My children don’t nap in the afternoons now (except perhaps the youngest, who just turned 3), so that gives me ample time to write whenever they are busy playing.
Actually, I have a special, God-given gift/talent that helps me the most in my work: I can write a lot, very fast. This can be a bane as well as a boon e.g. some of my blog readers can’t keep up with my very long blog posts, but this ability has allowed me to author books!
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
I start by thinking up possible article ideas. They usually come to my mind easily and naturally, as a result of my conversations with people, my observations of social situations and trends, my reflections upon the Qur’an, or my online reading of major blogs and current affairs/news articles. Anything that I end up thinking about or mulling over is something I eventually end up writing about.
I then draft an article outline in the form of a bulleted list of subheadings, either in my head, or on the back of receipts in my wallet (it is funny how, after becoming a mother, I am always out of notebooks/journals/notepads to scribble on, although my children have many). Next, I create a quick new draft from the digital templates of past articles that are stored in my hard drive. I love using Bean for Mac as a text editor.
Once the outline is done, it usually takes me less than 3 hours to have the article ready. The 3000+ word blog posts on my blog, however, take up a whole workday or two, as I have to meticulously copyedit and proofread them myself before publishing (something which I do not enjoy).
WHY DO YOU WRITE?
I write because I have always loved to, and because it really suits me as a freelance profession at this stage in my life, when I am a stay-at-home mother of little children. Perhaps once they are older and/or have flown the nest, I will return to my other keen interests and hobbies, such as teaching/education, particularly institutional religious instruction. But for now, when they are so young, writing allows me to work from home.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
The Qur’an inspires me the most. I read the Qur’an before dawn almost every single day.
I also get inspired a lot by social interactions with people at events, and by random incidents that happen in life. I am a silent but very acute observer of human behavior in social settings, which I love to relate to my early-morning reflections upon the Qur’an.
The resultant analyses usually find their way into my writings, and also prove to be the muse for them.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF BEING A WRITER?
Currently, the hardest part about writing, for me, is to limit the word count of my articles. I can just not seem to keep my thoughts on any particular topic to less than 1400-1800 words.
The lack of professionalism that I have experienced with some editors and publications in the blogging and publishing industry has also proved challenging. Nowadays, everyone wants high-quality online written content, but for free, or for a very minimal wage.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION AS A WORD ARTIST OR BOOK INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL?
My vision, originally, was to get published as a book author.
Now my vision is to continue writing more, and better, Islamic books, and to improve myself and grow at it.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE AUTHORS?
I do not read physical books much any more (surprise, surprise) because I now read mostly online content. However, my favorite female author during childhood was Agatha Christie.
WHICH FEMALE AUTHORS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE INTERVIEWED ON WORDMOTHERS NEXT?
I’d like to see more accomplished and professional female Muslim authors here, such as Na’ima b. Robert and Zohra Sarwari.
Thank you, Sadaf Farooqi!
— Nicole Melanson
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