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Sabina Khan on Timing, Revisions & Rejection
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2019
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2019

With her newly released novel The The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, we’ll have our eyes on the outspoken author Sabina Khan, known for writing about Muslim teens who are straddling cultures and determined to find their place.

She’s beloved among aspiring writers and fans for her transparency throughout the writing process – one in which she generously offers helpful advice and tips for publishing.

Here is some of her most invaluable shared wisdom.  

On Timing

Timing plays a key role in publishing, but Khan cautions authors from interpreting that as age-related. She encourages aspiring authors to stay focused and keep dreaming, regardless of their age.

“I have so much respect for writers who are doing amazing work in their early twenties,” Khan writes on her blog. “I wish I had been that focused and driven and talented when I was that age. But, honestly, I wasn’t. I was a late bloomer, in education, career and just generally having my s**t together. But I still had big dreams. One of them was writing. But other ones like motherhood & starting my own business took precedence at the time. I’ve spent many nights over the past two decades agonizing over whether I would ever have an opportunity to fulfill my writing dreams. Looking back at my younger self I wish I could tell her not to worry, because dreams have a way of coming true when it’s their time, as long as you don’t give up along the way. Sometimes that happens and that’s okay too. We all change as we get older and our dreams can change too. Some of mine certainly did and in the end, I realized that those dreams were not right for me after all.”

“So, if you’re a writer dealing with life’s realities and now is just not the right time to focus on your dreams, just hold on to them really tight and remember that’s it’s never too late to tell your stories. We’ll be here waiting.”

On Rejection

“It’s so easy to despair and get caught up in everyone else’s success and even be a little envious and wonder when it will happen for us,” she writes from experience on her blog. “And it’s perfectly okay to allow ourselves a small pity party, because we’ve worked hard at this and it’s not fair that it’s taking so long. But then we have to shake it off and get back on it. And doing that can be really hard. Because as much as anyone will tell you that rejections aren’t meant to be personal, they really are. And they hurt. A lot. But if we can turn that hurt into drive then we haven’t lost.”

“I urge you: please don’t give up. Because if you do the world may miss out on something truly wonderful. And that would be the real loss.”

On Revisions

Here she shares encouragement for writers going through the dreaded revision process:

“My agent is highly editorial and very hands-on which is exactly what I wanted and needed. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have clear communication, especially during your initial conversations. It is so important to be on the same page as far as what you both expect from this relationship, because hopefully it will be a long-term one.”

“You may not agree with everything your agent says,” she warns. “And this is perfectly okay. It is your book after all and no one knows your story and your characters as well as you do. But an agent offers a different perspective, an experienced set of eyes which is something really invaluable.

“Don’t rush the process. I admit that I’m definitely guilty of this. I am a very impatient person, so it took a lot of discipline for me to hold back and not rush through any revisions.”

This excerpt was originally published on Sabina Khan’s blog. Read her full post here.

On Inspiration

In an interview with the BBC about her latest novel, she discusses the dangers that LGBT youth face across different cultures and religions today, and shares her inspiration for the book.

At the time her 17-year-old daughter came out to her and her husband in 2016, there was also a brutal murder of an LGBT activist in Bangladesh.

“So, these two things kind of came together for me in a story that I wanted to write about a young girl from a Muslim immigrant family. She has a big secret, she’s in love with a girl, and she can’t come out her parents who are quite conservative and unfortunately, she does get caught kissing her girlfriend by her mother, and they whisk her away to Bangladesh to try and get her married off as soon as possible before any hint of a scandal can get out and ruin their reputation. So, the story is about her trying to claw her way back to her life and doesn’t have to lose everyone she loves in the process.”

This excerpt was originally published on the BBC. Listen to the full program here.

Photo Credit: Sabina-khan.com

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