Meet author, Rasha Al Shehaby
My name is Rasha Al Shehaby, I’m an Egyptian female pharmacist living in Cairo and has been working in the pharmaceutical field for more than twelve years. I like reading books, stories and watching movies and I was influenced greatly by that when I was a child. I used to try to write little secret stories, in Arabic, similar to what I read and watched on TV but I always thought of that as a hobby or something just to do in my spare time. Then in 2011, my mother passed away and followed that was a series of many different life losses so I went back to writing secretly every time I felt down, but this time as a way of self expression and reflection on my life, so far, instead of giving up to depression..
But 2017 was my peak , it was when I started writing like crazy every day in my own notebook trying not to give up on life and trying to rekindle my passion.
So I began a trend of posting a thought about everyday life on my personal page on Facebook to brush out any negative ideas that got in to my head and people gave me positive feedback about what I was doing!..then when they became numerous posts a close friend of mine advised me to start a personal blog and keep my thoughts and stories in it instead, especially that at that time I started to get interested in listening to other people’s stories and writing about them too.
At that point, the habit started to turn into passion and I felt I wanted to write in a professional style in such a way that my writings would appear neat and attractive to the readers so I worked on improving my vocabulary and Arabic grammar and then the dream became bigger that I wanted to publish my own book of stories at some time later that year so I worked on that as a project trying by that to make writing part of my career.
I started looking for writing workshops through Facebook seeking to learn and to find other passionate writers like me to be able to share with them my thoughts, dreams and ideas.
Along the way I bumped into a storytelling workshop, and its tutor was the talented storyteller and actor Dr.Hany Abd Elnaser, and through his lessons I learned me how to tell an interesting story to others only by changing my facial expressions and voice tones and that helped me alot because it made me imagine during writing how the face and voice of the person I’m writing about would be and then write exactly how it seemed to get the correct expressions and translate it into words.
But still, I was searching for a community of people with similar dreams like mine to surround myself with so that we would motivate and inspire each other all the time .
And as the year was coming close to its end, I started to lose hope about the writing project because I hadn’t started writing my book yet or had any idea about how the publishing process goes, till I found an ad from a sponsored page on Facebook called (The writing retreat Egypt -Hoda Anwar) announcing about a writing trip in a quiet serine place in Egypt in the middle of December so I thought to myself why not give this year a last chance of hope and join that trip and see what happens.
So I went on that journey and there I met a group of inspiring people and its leader was the passionate young lady author Hoda Anwar that published her own book ‘Sufi’ the previous year and suffered alone until she started her own writing career, so she came up with an idea of arranging journeys for writers and storytellers from both genders who are interested in writing and in Arabic literature to gather them under her umbrella building by that a community of ambitious writers and dreamers like her...and voilà in a blink many surprises took place after that !
The aim of Hoda was to support fresh unique genuine writers and help them out with ideas and ways to make their dreams become possible and see the light and throughout the whole trip she kept giving us information about the obstacles and experiences she faced on her way openly and together we discussed ideas of how we can all overcome the so many challenges of writing later on in our careers.
One other interesting thing that happened in that remarkable trip was meeting the publisher Mr.Fathi El Mezian the owner of ‘Layan publishing house’that gave out a speech in the trip about all the information needed to publish a book then he announced together with Hoda that they are working on publishing a book called (El Marbooa’a) or (المربوعة)that would consist of many different stories written by all talented writers that joined Hoda’s previous trips throughout the year and since that this was the last trip in the year they asked us to submit stories after the trip was over so that they could select a few to include in the book and release this creation in Cairo book fair taking place in January 2018!
I danced out of joy when I heard these news and as soon I was back I sent Hoda two short stories I wrote after the trip, she liked them and decided to add them to the book that summed up eighty various stories for thirty three different creators !
I was very excited seeing all the steps of the book taking place, the joy and anxiety of all the participants wanting this so much to happen felt like we were all casting a massive spell together so that finally our magic would take place on earth!!
We were all on fire and the heat was so clear and striking even though that some of us haven’t met each other in reality but got in touch only through a Facebook group, and that is why I felt that my participation in this book would be fruitful because the power of it was not only that it’s a book of stories but also because of the energy and stories behind it!...
Now we are starting a habit of a monthly meeting and in it we write our aims for the next steps to be and finally I opened up to them about the idea of my book to be and they are helping me out in the process by advices and opinions, and that to me is a great goal achieved getting me closer to my dreams !
And as much I can see that writing sometimes becomes an exhausting process because gripping an idea is not that easy and trying to motivate myself all the time to write is a hard ongoing process but my passion towards it makes me accept the hardships that come out of it with satisfaction ...
My only advice for anyone that wants to start a writing career is to always take notes for anything that attracts their attention at any moment because they can develop that to ideas later on and also to practice reading and writing daily or as much as possible as if its their working out exercises only here they are strengthening the brain not the muscles!
The latest news now is that (El Marbooa’a) book is officially available in Cairo Book Fair that will end by the 10th of February 2018 and there was a collective book signing celebration for all the writers including me last Friday the 2nd of February . After the book fair is over, the book will be available in all branches of Alef and shorouk bookstores in Cairo and can be available for purchase online through their websites if anyone living abroad would be interested to buy it.
Finally I just want to say something to any entrepreneur starting a new project in general and that is maybe yes the journey won’t be that easy but if you want something so hard don’t rest until you make that happen !
And to the ‘Feminist Wednesday’ , ‘Dream,Girl’ blog audience and me, I would say,
Thank you Erin for inspiring me with your work and spirit and Yes
’DREAM BIG, Girl’ ;)