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It’s not an everyday occurrence to run into young independent authors here in Bahrain. But when we came across Reem Alomari’s book, Between The Stars, we wanted to learn about her journey and how she came to publish her very first book at only 24 years old.

A copywriter and illustrator by profession, Reem discovered her passion for writing during her university years. Friends and family had pushed her to publish, but she’s never had the courage to do it until last year. This is her story.


Discovering Writing

Growing up I wasn’t much of a reader, it wasn’t something that I looked forward to do during my spare time or before going to bed. I was like most non-readers I guess, who would look at books and be petrified by their countless pages. I especially remember seeing a Harry Potter book once, I don’t remember which, but it was really thick. I remember thinking: I don’t know why anyone would want to go through that! Before you go crazy on me, I know what I missed out on, trust me. I’ve seen the movies and I can only imagine what the books are like if the movies are this good.

In the years leading up to university as I tried to get into reading, not much has been read because I was a picky reader. But I was reading nonetheless. I read books like, “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey, “Does My Head Look Big In This?” by Randa Abdel-Fattah, the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer. I even tried to get into Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook” but only managed to read a few paragraphs.

It wasn’t until I was in university that I was introduced to the Young Adult section of books and from then on, I can honestly say, my life drastically changed for the better.

A love grew within me, bloomed with every page I turned, took root with every book I’ve consumed. I guess the law of attraction came into play, since all of a sudden it was easy for me to find books that I wanted to read. Reading and going to bookstores became a fun activity for me. If I were an emoji, I’d be the one with hearts in my eyes every time I walked into a bookstore!


Inspirations

As a result of becoming an avid reader, I’ve come to really appreciate some of the best literary minds from different genres and timelines; authors like Rupi Kaur, Tahera Mafi, Sarah J Maas, Virginia Woolf, Atticus, Rumi, Hemmingway, e.h, Pavana and much more.


“Bookstagram”

I met fellow readers and book bloggers online and together we talked about the books we liked, shared reviews and recommendations. From these online friends, one had a big part in awakening the writer in me. We did this thing where she’d share a poem from Pinterest and ask about my interpretation only to be so surprised with how different it is from hers. We appreciated how one poem can mean something else entirely to the other reader. Soon enough she started sharing her own works with me and I thought I’d delve into poetry myself as well, only to find out that I loved it.

Growing up I was always the artist in my family. But I never understood how one could express themselves through art. I simply liked to draw nice things because it was enjoyable. But when I discovered writing, I understood how it can be used for self-expression. My understanding of the English literature freed me, gave me an outlet for these random thoughts that buzz around my mind. I had an appreciation for words, for shaping them, for collecting them in journals, for stretching them out and playing with how I can possibly convert raw feelings into paper without limitations.


Between The Stars

The idea to publish a book came to me last June as I sat at a Starbucks with my good friend who suffers from a mental illness.

I shared one of my works with her. I remember her taking time to read and contemplate what she had just read. When I asked what she thought, her response was that she hasn’t always known how to describe the inner workings of her mind until she read my poem. She read another and gave the same kind of response. That’s when she told me that I should publish my poems. Now, up to that point, I’ve had other friends and family encouraging me to publish, but I’ve always thought my poems were random thoughts that didn’t fall under a particular theme. My friend’s answer to that was, “So what? Maybe not having a theme could be your theme.”

And then something in me clicked. Just like that. I remember thinking, maybe I can do this. Maybe I can positively impact other people, even if it wasn’t a great number of people.

That same night, I went straight to work; collecting over 50 poems, getting rid of the dark ones, editing and coming up with new ones.

I’d personally started a lot of writing projects before, but could never see them through to the end. But with this book, half way through the work, I remember thinking how odd it was that I haven’t given up yet. But I kept going, taking it day by day, focusing on the smaller, easier tasks of collecting and editing.

When my manuscript was finished, I finally allowed myself to think about the outline of the book and how I wanted the book cover to be designed. I started sketching out ideas myself. The first few weren’t creative, but that’s how ideas work. You have to filter out the bad ones in order to make room for the good ones. When I had a couple of ideas locked in, I hired an illustrator that I had found from Instagram. After that I hired an editor from fiverr.com. Working with my partner in crime, the illustrator I hired all the way from Venezuela, was definitely a unique experience. With the time difference, and my indecisiveness the work was not as fast as I would have liked it to be, but it was on-going and it was smooth. I loved working with her and will for sure work with her again in the future should another project arise. I also adored working with my editor since she understood my voice and my approach to writing, plus her feedback was really encouraging as well as helpful.

I took the final step on December 5th, 2017 and finally published via the self-publishing platform that I’d heard about from two good friends of mine, M.G Darwish and Hesham N. Ali (both young local Bahraini authors) called CreateSpace. Every independent writer should check it out, because it is an easy way to put your work out there. It offers up services like editing, cover design, ISBN, etc.

Everything was a first-time experience for me, but I did learn a lot along the way. My takeaway from all of this is, when planning out a book, make sure you give yourself ample time for mistakes. Realistically anything can go wrong. I planned on publishing my book on my birthday in November, but ended up publishing in December. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. My group of writer-friends were a great support system. Furthermore, hiring freelancers for tasks like book covers and manuscript editing is cheaper. And finally, don’t think about everything from the start and instead take it day by day. Enjoy the process and soon you’ll accomplish the impossible!

Majra Team

We're a bunch of people who are on a mission to change the employment scene in the MENA region. The articles we write are to express our views and stand on the career development world!

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