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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Irshad Abdal-Haqq

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world?
The literary arts allows me to confront historical inaccuracies and social injustices in the world and conceptualize equitable solutions. Other art forms do the same but my particular artistic ability or gift is  through writing. Many writers are watchers. They watch the world, perceive problems, and brings them to light. They may perceive beauty and bright it to light. Light (truth) that may spur action to address some of those problems or action to appreciate the world’s beauty.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? My writer’s block is usually a product of fear or insecurity–often unfounded. I try to meditate on the source of that fear or insecurity while doing other things. When I identify the source, I try to find the published work of other writers who have dealt with the same or similar issue(s). Their courage to write despite their fear inspires me to get back to work.

What is your favorite time to write?
I usually write during the morning between 7am and noon. On occasion I am compelled to write on the spur of the moment, when the spark of creativity flashes, which could be the middle of the night or the middle of the afternoon. In those cases, my “writing” may take the form of scribbling down notes on scraps of post-it notes or using a voice recorder.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
A quote attributed to Lydia Davis as advice to writers has resonated with me for many years: “Do what you want to do, and don’t worry if it’s a little odd or doesn’t fit the market.” From it, I created my own little mantra: “Write as you like and die happy.”

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age?
We are in the midst of a literary and publishing revolution! It’s an amazing time. While big publishing houses continue to dominate the industry, the electronic age has gifted us the freedom to publish our work and disseminate it with or without the big permission of the gatekeepers. It’s wonderful. While I would welcome the resources and support of the traditional publishing industry, knowing I don’t need them and don’t have to accept their terms is practically nirvana for me.

Irshad Abdal-Haqq’s Dash!: Young Black Refugee & Migration Stories is out now with Unsolicited Press.