Rania Naim is a young and ambitious author who proves that with determination, commitment, diligent work and sacrifice you can accomplish everything, if you want it.
She introduced herself to the wider public with a compilation of her essays for Thought Catalog and published her first book All the Words I Should Have Said last year.
Meet Rania and have a peek inside her creative world.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thank you for interviewing me! Really excited about this! I grew up in Cairo, Egypt and moved to DC a little over 4 years ago. I used to work in Media and Marketing before I switched to writing full-time. I consider myself an old soul but a city girl at the same time!
Walk me through the step-by-step process you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did, when you decided to become a writer?
Growing up, I felt really misunderstood. My mom moved to the US when I was 14 and I didn’t have a very good relationship with my dad so many times I felt lost with no guidance, so I would always go to my friends for advice until I realized they’re just as young and inexperienced as I am and they didn’t really understand what I was going through either, so I started documenting my thoughts, feelings and fears and writing them down trying to understand and analyze them better. While writing never really solved my problems, it healed me. I always felt like I had a talent for writing but I never really believed that I could be a writer, because it wasn’t what I studied and also because society is a firm believer that you cannot make a living with writing, that it should always be a hobby. But I was very unhappy at my job and I didn’t see a future for me in that field. I quit 6 different jobs because they made me miserable until I realized I needed an exit. So I started contributing to Thought Catalog and after a few pieces, one of my articles went viral and I think that’s when they started seeing my writing potential and how my voice resonates with their cotent, so I was very fortunate that they saw that in me and gave me the chance that literally changed my life and made my dreams come true.
How did publishing your first book “The Search For Something More” change your process of writing?
The Search For Something More was a stepping stone for me in the publishing world, since it was a compilation of essays I’ve already written on Thought Catalog, I didn’t really consider it my first book, but it was kind of a manifestation of my dreams and also knowing that people could potentially be interested in buying my work instead of reading it for free. So it definitely gave me a lot of confidence in my writing and also knowing that people are connecting to my words and relating to them one way or another was a really gratifying and surreal feeling.
“All The Words I should have said” is a book in which you poetically speak from your heart about love and heartbreak, life and forgivness, the blessing of new chapters. Personally, I felt that your words are all about inspiring us to create a momentum in our own life that will encourage the things that move us forward.What does “All The Words I should have said” means to you, how would you describe this book?
All The Words I Should Have Said is truly a part of me and a piece of my heart (if not all of it.) It was my first original book and I wanted it to be honest, real and empowering at the same time because I feel like this is what I’m constantly trying to accomplish and learn in life. How to be real, more honest, how to be okay with my own vulnerability, how to learn from heartbreak and how to really embrace being a woman going through all the highs and lows of love and life, so I wanted to portray all these thoughts and feelings in the book and also say everything I’ve been wanting to say to myself, my ex-lovers, my friends, my family and the world. I feel like this book will always have a special place in my heart, like your first baby. There’s a different kind of attachment, a different kind of learning and a different kind of love.
What is your favourite quote from the book and why?
Probably ‘Maktub.’ It means ‘Written’ in Arabic and I love how simple yet rich and profound it is. It holds so many meanings behind it and it has always soothed me when I was confused or hurt. Knowing that this is all part of a bigger plan and a bigger purpose that I’m not supposed to know yet. But this poem specifically is close to my heart because in a way it contradicts the word. She wants to change the fate of her love story with the one she loves so they can be together but she also understands that their story is already written. It’s a reflection of my personality too, having faith but always trying to see if I can interfere with destiny and change some parts of my story.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? Where does your inspiration come from?
It usually takes about 6 months, especially since all my books are not very long. My inspiration mainly comes from my life, my past, my friends and what they’re going through, my childhood and my family. A lot of my inspiration also comes from what I experience in my daily life and how I’m growing as a person. Occasionally, my romantic side would take over and I would write things purely from my imagination but most of my articles are based on true stories.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I feel like I’ve grown so much as a writer in the past year in terms of writing with more clarity, honesty and also how I organize my thoughts. I feel like now I know how to polish my writing and truly write what I’m feeling without sugarcoating or without thinking too much about how people will perceive it.
I’ve noticed that you have a great connection with your readers and many of them have strong emotional reactions. How do you feel when you see those comments?
It’s the best part of my day reading these comments and the things people say about my writing or just knowing that I helped someone get over a painful breakup or a traumatic experience truly humbles me and makes me feel like this is the purpose of my pain, to try to help others too and share my most personal stories so people can understand that they’re not alone. In a way, my readers restored my faith in humanity and the world. I’ve seen so much love and kindness and honesty from my readers in the past year more than I’ve seen in my entire life.
Under one of your latest posts on Instagram you wrote this: “I love how writing helps me dissect my feelings and understand them better. Even when I’m confused and I write about being confused, it still gives me peace and clarity.” Do you consider writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Absolutely! This is what got me addicted to it in the first place and what I mentioned to you earlier about how I got started, it didn’t necessarily fix the problem or change the reality of the situation but it healed me in a different way. Just being able to write down everything I’ve been going through really helped me cleanse my thoughts and my mind. Like removing all the dark and toxic thoughts and trying to find the light in them.
What does literary success look like to you?
I think to me it’s about how many people you can move, how many hearts you can touch, how many souls you can enlighten. It’s about writing something from your heart so it reaches the hearts of others. Apart from that, literary success also means reading more, writing more boldly and just opening your eyes and expanding your knowledge of people and the world and trying to be more in tune with people’s thoughts and emotions.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently working on my third book! I won’t reveal much about it now, but I am very excited about it. I want to keep growing as a writer, hopefully travel more and get inspired by different cultures and different people and continue being real and authentic and being someone readers can relate to and feel close to. That’s how I always feel about my favorite writers, like they’re my best friends, and I hope I can have the same effect on others. I want people to know that someone out there understands what they thought no one will.
What advice do you have for writers that are just getting started?
I feel like I’m just getting started myself, to be honest, but I think if you truly want to be a writer, you have to commit to being invested in it and ready for the pressure and the commitment it requires. You’ll have to constantly write even if you don’t feel like it, you’ll have to reopen old wounds and remember things you’ve been trying to forget so you can write about them, you’re going to force yourself to be more open and vulnerable, even if it means your ex, your mom and your friends will read it and know the secrets you’ve been hiding. You’ll have to put up with negative feedback, people misjudging you and maybe even people making fun of your work. If you want to be a writer, you have to put it above anything else, because it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It’s your mind and your heart speaking to the world.
Let her words touch your soul! <3
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2q6VBjD
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.) http://thoughtcatalog.com/book/all-the-words-i-should-have-said/