Ruby Dhal is someone whose words have touched the hearts of many people. This year she debuted her book Memories Unwound, in which she writes about topics such as heartbreak and pain, but also the strength in people, love and healing.
With this book she will take you on a journey where you will find yourself and your true feelings.
Take a look inside the creative world of a poet’s soul.
Hello dear Ruby, tell us a little bit about yourself. Is there something perhaps not many people know?
There are a lot of things that people perhaps aren’t too aware of, but two of the most important things would be – my mother’s death and my Afghan-Sikh identity. My mother passed away when I was just 4 years old and that one event has had an impact on my whole life. Essentially, the reason why I started writing was because I found solace in books which I used as a means of escapism from the harsh reality of my life that my mother’s death created. The second is that I am an Afghan-Sikh. What this means is that, although my religion is one of a Sikh, my cultural heritage comes from Afghanistan as opposed to Punjab, India. This is extremely important to my identity as well as who I am as my Afghan-Sikh heritage has been the source of so many events in my life that have transformed me into the person I am today.
What made you want to become a writer?
I became a writer because of my love for books as a young child. I’d always hide underneath the confines of my duvet, reading new books that I’d taken out of the library that week. Soon enough, my love for reading books led to amateur attempts of writing stories and poems. However, I never truly tried writing poetry until late 2015, and that came as a result of a terrible heartbreak I experienced. One that basically changed the whole course of my life, and it inevitably took me away from a secure path to following my dreams of being an author.
“Memories Unwound” is your first book, released this year in March. You open-heartedly talk about life experiences, love, pain, heartbreak and healing and your beautiful poetry is something we all can relate to. How would you describe this book and why it is a must-read?
Memories Unwound is for every single person who has experienced grief, or is going through a hard time or someone who knows what it is like to face a tremendous battle in life and come out of it as a completely different person. ‘Memories Unwound’ is for those who want to understand themselves and their emotions in better light and those who wish to go through a journey to eventual self-healing. It’s a must-read for every person who feels something. Anything. As long as they have the ability to feel, they have the ability to delve into this book as if they were delving into their heart.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing and what is the most difficult part of it?
Publishing my first book definitely showed me how not to write! Often, when you write poetry and read it aloud, you think it’s perfect and everyone will love it. But it’s only when you’re sitting down and trying to create a manuscript that you realize how unfit your poems really are. It allowed me to understand writing for others, not just myself. Writing and publishing my own book allowed me to see the business side of things. I was better able to grasp themes and how they are supposed to interlink in a book, as well as other beneficial facts about the publishing world which I hadn’t been aware of before. The interior/exterior of the book was definitely the hard part. As much as we’d like to say ‘don’t judge a book by its’ cover’, most of us do judge a book by the way it looks. And so, creating the perfect cover with the perfect font and the perfect interior took so long. It was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting!
What is your favorite quote from the book and why?
My favorite poem from the book is definitely the one dedicated to my parents in the end, which is under the title ‘Who Am I?’ The reason for this is because my cultural heritage is a huge part of who I am. And because the main themes of the book were love, heartbreak and revival, I wasn’t really able to incorporate that facet of my personality in this book. That is why I felt that the last piece summed up very well for my readers, who I was and where I came from.
What do you love most about the writing process and where does your inspiration come from?
I love sitting down and juggling different ideas. The writing process is definitely a tough one and often I find myself battling it out to find the right words that can be put together to form a piece. But when they do, god, when they do I feel as though I’ve accomplished a prize. So I do love the part where I read what I’ve written and I am truly content with it. It doesn’t happen too often, believe me, every piece is incomplete. But whenever it does, it’s an absolutely indescribable feeling! My inspiration mostly comes from my own experiences as well as the experiences of those close to me.
What is the hardest thing to write about?
The hardest thing to write about for me has always been my mother. Even today, after 19 years, I still cannot write about her without shedding a tear or feeling my heart constrict with pain.
You have a great connection with your readers and I’ve noticed that for many of them your poetry is sort of like therapy. Your words are so encouraging and inspiring… How do you feel when you hear back from your readers? What is something memorable you have heard from them?
There are so many amazing things that my readers have said to me over the past 1.5 years. I don’t even know where to begin! In general, when they message me their own story of experiences that have broken them and how they’ve managed to heal, or are working towards finding themselves, and then among this they tell me about how my poetry has played a part in it, I am absolutely humbled. It makes me so happy, so gratified and unimaginably grateful that my words have managed to have an impact on the lives of others. I genuinely feel closer to my followers whenever they share their personal stories with me. I feel like we’re friends, and that’s what I want to be with them, more than anything else.
Tell us a little about your plans in the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
Right now I am working on my next poetry book and after that I will be finishing my novel (which I have been writing for almost 4 years and still am unable to complete) and my short story anthology. In 5 years time, I see myself as an accomplished poetess and worldwide novelist, travelling the world and meeting people all over the world, sharing stories of my own journey and hoping that through talks, presentations and general meet-ups I am able to play a small part in their journey to self-healing and revival. I also see myself happily in love, with someone who is complete in himself, has a similar worldview and joins in the invaluable journey of making a difference in the lives of others with me.
Any last thoughts for our readers and what advice do you have for writers that are just getting started?
Never give up! The first day, week, month and even year of writing is an absolutely frightening one. You just need to put your head down, set your mind to it and write from your heart. Once you attach your pen to your paper, nothing can stop you except you yourself. Believe in yourself and keep writing. Write all of your sorrows away. And once you’ve written them away for yourself, pick that pen up again and write the sorrows of everyone else away. If you approach your art in this way, nothing can ever stop you.