- A chat with Zaithoon Bin Ahamed
Writing, like all other forms of art, is an act of creation. It is putting words to paper and creating an experience for the reader. And the writers amongst us will know just how powerful it is to be able to create using the written word.
Zaithoon Bin Ahamed is one such creative – a content writer/editor and communications/PR specialist. She has played multiple roles across diverse industries, ranging from broadcasting and electronic media, financial news reporting, investment research publishing services, marketing and PR content for tech, branding and communications for manufacturing, and human resource development. In December, Zaithoon launched her first-ever book – a collection of poetry and short stories – Love and Miracles.
Becoming (and staying) a writer at heart
Zaithoon has been writing since she was a child, and even as a professional, writing, in some way, has always been at the heart of what she has done. However, freestyle expressive writing was something that Zaithoon always did in private, as a hobby and as a way of expressing herself and working through her feelings. “Writing is something that helps me express my thoughts and views and what creative ideas I had,” Zaithoon explained, speaking about her personal writing, adding that she would also channel her energy into helping friends as well – like, for example, working with a friend to compose the theme song for a play they were helping direct.
Zaithoon’s love for writing was inspired by her grandmother, who she describes as being an avid reader who was “very much ahead of her time and used to effortlessly quote everyone from Shakespeare to well-known modern authors”. Her grandmother’s ability to talk about any subject related to art and literature inspired Zaithoon herself to take an interest, and, as a child, she found herself little bits of poetry and stories just for fun. “I found it very therapeutic, and a way to express myself, especially if I’m having a tough or frustrating day,” Zaithoon said, sharing that while the majority of her writing was private, she did set up a blog and other channels to publish some her thoughts, views, opinions and writings, noting that, for her, writing was “more as a way to wind down and express myself outside formal channels”.
With her writing being a personal form of expression, Zaithoon never planned (or expected) to become an author. It was a path she took after a lot of encouragement from a small circle of her closest friends, who, being familiar with Zaithoon’s personal writings, just knew it was something that she needed to share with the world.
At her friends’ encouragement, she began the process of putting together what would become Love and Miracles. “Writing just for fun and keeping it somewhere because you get something out of it is one thing, but actually publishing a book is another thing. It takes more effort than simply writing for yourself does,” Zaithoon said, reflecting on the decision to compile her writings into a book.
Creating ‘Love and Miracles’
Love and Miracles is a mix of some of Zaithoon’s old writings as well as several pieces she crafted specifically for the book itself.
“The pandemic helped me to have that ‘mind time’ to put more effort into publishing a book as well as the physical time to focus my efforts and put it together,” Zaithoon explained, adding that she was supported through each step of the process through personal and mutual contacts she had made along the years working in and around the creative industries.
“Love and Miracles is very special to me because its writings over time that I’ve collected, and everyone who has helped me through the process and advised me are all very close friends. It’s my very first piece, and I am thinking about maybe writing another one soon. I have some ideas and thoughts, and I am putting together a skeleton to work on over the next few months,” Zaithoon shared.
While some pieces in Love and Miracles are several years old and were revised and tweaked (the oldest being about five years old, there are also some pieces that Zaithoon wrote specifically for Love and Miracles, to properly capture the story she was trying to tell. Love and Miracles also includes two short stories, A Tale of a Water Lily and The Last Call, short stories originally written by Zaithoon as entries for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, a competition Zaithoon decided to enter for two reasons: one, to get her work out there; and two, to motivate her. “It wasn’t just about winning the prize, but to enjoy doing it and when you have a deadline, you’ll work towards it,” Zaithoon said.
While A Tale of a Water Lily and The Last Call did not place at the Commonwealth Short Story Competition, having written these stories means that Zaithoon can think about how to work with them in the future. In fact, she shared that she hopes to expand on her most recent application and look at potentially turning it into a long-form novel in the future.
Love and Miracles sees some truly personal pieces of poetry, the most personal of which is dedicated to a friend Zaithoon lost to cancer, with Zaithoon having initially written the poem in memory of her friend’s 40th birthday.
Seeing ‘Love and Miracles’ come to life
With such a personal story behind the book, we asked Zaithoon what it felt like holding her finished book in her hands for the first time, and Zaithoon shared: “I was thrilled. For one thing, I didn’t see myself publishing – I used to write because I enjoyed doing it – but when I saw it, I was thrilled and it made me want to do more of it.”
For Zaithoonl, the experience of Love and Miracles has taught her one very important thing – the importance of not letting your passions die out. “Lots of people ask how I find the time, and younger people, especially, are inspired and intrigued by it. I tell them this; to be an interesting person, you have to do interesting things. It takes a lot of effort and courage,” Zaithoon said, adding: “Very few people are fortunate to build a career through their passion and what they love to do, so it is important to balance your life and not shut out what your passion is. That is what will keep you going and keep you creative”.
Balancing what you’re passionate about is what will make you a more balanced and happier person, Zaithoon explained, saying: “Having that avenue to wind down and express yourself in a way that helps you balance the madness of the corporate world and everyday life is really important for you as an individual as well. Writing has helped me to do this and so, I encouraged people to do more and find the time to do things they are passionate about as well.”
Love and Miracles is available for purchase through Jam Fruit Tree Publications (www.thejamfruittree.com/) and on Amazon Kindle.