Tuesday By Amal Ghazali
About two weeks ago my publisher held a book launch for my second book, Tuesday, in Mid Valley Megamall. A lot of people turned out – family, friends, media, and other fellow book lovers. It was an overall fun event, and as usual, like any other book launch by writers anywhere in the world, I did a book reading. A book reading is simply a session where the author would pick out an excerpt from his/her book, read it to the audience, and answer any possible questions.
There were two major thoughts that came through my mind as I read my own book using a microphone to an audience. The first one was whether or not I locked my apartment that day before I left, amidst the chaos of wanting to arrive on time with my family. The second one was how surreal that moment was, holding an actual book (!) that initially began as just a random, incessant thought in my head.
‘Inspiration’ seems to be the go-to word people would use to describe this scenario. So I suppose the inspiration for writing Tuesday began about more than a year ago, even before my first book, Dumped, was published. I was dwelling a lot on the concept of forgiveness, mainly driven by the observations that so many of us had done wrong or had been done wrong, all in the name of self-discovery and self-progression. It was such a beautiful thing to learn – learning from mistakes, seeking or giving forgiveness, making peace with others, making peace with ourselves, and eventually, growing to become better people. This was the inspiration that begun the writing process for this second manuscript.
But like the first book, I could never quite know how the story would turn out or how the ending would look like. I would just write and write, and somehow I’ll end up at the edge of the road, and that’s how I know that particular story has ended. It will become a single manuscript, which is sent out to a publisher, and someone in the publishing business will decide that it is worthy of being printed in thousands to be shared with the world.
That’s how Tuesday was born.
Fuelling The Inspiration
Sometimes, inspiration occurs at the strangest moments. I won’t even deny that some of the ones I’ve had were acquired during a toilet break, while eating a sandwich on a gloomy day, or even right in the middle of conversations with people around me. It is only a spark of thought, but what I would have to do is to keep fuelling it enough to become a complete expression, whether in the form of an essay, a newspaper article or even a book.
I find that traveling is especially good in keeping the enthusiasm consistent during writing. For Tuesday, I was inspired to write a book that was part story and part travelogue. I wanted to write about a story that takes place in a location so vivid and profound that it could even be perceived as an additional character, and so I went to Paris and made sure I was right there when I wrote about it. Many writers have done this before, as real-life encounters give the best form of inspiration. Proclaimed director and producer, Sean Penn, for example, transported himself to the mountainous jungles of Mexico to meet the notorious drug lord El Chapo just so that he could have material for an essay he was working on with Rolling Stones magazine. Now I’m no Sean Penn (I have better hair), but I can attest that it is sometimes research is necessary in order to attain and sustain inspiration.
Speaking of which, Tuesday was also written in a number of places – on a friend’s desk of his place in Lyon, at a small coffee table in a dodgy Airbnb in Barcelona, transcribed in notebooks in a hostel in Tokyo, at my parents’ dining table in Kedah, and during quiet mornings in a small village in Greece, to name a few. All these places brought a different feeling in the air and a different kind of perspective during the writing process.
And then, when the book is done, the next biggest challenge is overcoming the insecurities of expression. We live in an era where everyone seems to have an opinion about everything, and be it as it may, negative criticisms are more often than not difficult to swallow. After all, when you’ve worked hard on something for a very long time and given it everything you’ve got, it is only natural to feel somewhat bummed out if the product is not exactly the favour of consumers. I find these especially daunting in a case of publishing literature, as we all know that it is a form of art, and there is no such thing as an art that pleases everyone. Furthermore, there is always the dilemma between being honest about expression, and having this exposure of vulnerabilities read and picked apart by readers really is anxiety-inducing.
After the book launch was over and everyone has left, I thought about the people that showed up who had always believed in me and readers who loved my work, even when I was frequently questioning my own legitimacy as a writer myself. It began to dawn on me that if for nothing else, being fearless about expressing your inspirations and sharing it with people could end up giving joy to others or inspire them in return to progress, travel, change their perspective of things and to even heal.
So maybe that’s a good enough reason for us to keep looking out for inspirations, and to nurture them to become something that could be shared in a positive manner. We all impact the people around us, the only difference being whether we are doing so in a way that uplifts people or otherwise. The former is always a better option.
Note: Tuesday is available in all major bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore.