Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Living Islam, Danyal, and The Victory Girls

Assalamu alaikum.

Yesterday found me in a tent, in a field, in Lincolnshire (an English county I’d never visited before) as Day Two of the famous Living Islam event got into full swing. I had agreed, with Kube, to run a couple of writing workshops for Muslim Scouts, and had devoted many spare moments over the last couple of months to generating ideas for activities that would (hopefully) not resemble some sort of punishing Summer School!

Living Islam, in Lincolnshire


Anyway, that these young writers came up with such impressive results had far more to do with their enthusiasm and creativity than the somewhat experimental format of my workshop! Please read on and enjoy Eesaa’s composition below.

By way of context: I worked with one group of girls and one group of boys, all aged 10-12. They had to write, in instalments, the next part of The Victory Boys to follow a section I had read. To complicate matters, and to tap their imaginations, the children had to

(1) write in new characters (Danyal for the boys, and a whole team of Victory Girls: Isha, Saara, Yasmin and Aishah – selected by the tried-and-trusted Cinderella “Whose Shoe?” method!);

(2) add mystery objects from randomly chosen boxes (ranging from a banana skin to a plaster (that’s a Band-Aid, y’all!) to a mobile phone); and

(3) take blindfold shots at a goalnet.

(4) Finally, they were also asked to include some of the agreed descriptions and traits of these new characters in their writing!

The most impressive pieces of written work were rewarded with free personalised copies of the book – many thanks to Kube Publishing for providing these! Here is one of the winners:

As Mr Bateman walked off, Saleem thought, “Hmm, a speedy substitute…”. He looked over at Danyal sitting on the bench in his shorts and scratching his short, black hair. As Saleem walked over to him Danyal looked up.

“Yes, Coach Saleem!” As soon as the words came out of his mouth Ibrahim, on the pitch, was fouled and his knee started bleeding. Limping off the pitch Ibrahim put a plaster on his knee.

“Danyal, you’re on!” said Coach Saleem. Danyal jogged on and got into the striker position with just 5 minutes left. News came through on mobiles that the leading team had won their game so Shabab Al-Nasr had to win.

Back on the pitch a superb through ball by Junayd had released Danyal who raced clear and… slipped over a banana skin! It had been thrown by one of Rovers’ defenders. The ref blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. PENALTY! With 1 minute left Shabab Al-Nasr had won a penalty!

Danyal stepped up nerveless, even though the pressure was immense. As Danyal ran up the keeper waved his gloves distractingly. The ball hit the crossbar… then post… and went in!! The final whistle blew and Shabab Al-Nasr celebrated. They had won!

by Eesaa

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Victory-boy meets world!

Assalamu alaikum everyone.

Fourteen months (or so) after I wrote the manuscript, the postie has delivered it back to me in book form!

The book, in hand

I thought this might be an appropriate time to outline, in part, the story of the story, if you follow me.

I’d toyed with a few ideas for a manuscript for a while, and even begun writing a couple of things, only to abort the mission in both cases. The main reason for this was that my opportunities to write were more snatches of time than sustained periods of quiet contemplation about the storyline; what would be required to get from A to B; the nature of the characters, and so on.

When the chance to write is limited to half an hour here or an hour there, and especially if these windows of opportunity are opened sporadically and do not occur soon after one another, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain any momentum or to feel like you really know your characters or your direction at all. I was constantly haunted by the inevitability of having left something glaringly incongruous somewhere in the script; quite apparent to every reader but invisible to the beleaguered writer.

So it was that, in the Easter (school) holiday last year, I went to sleep with an idea in my head and woke up in the morning still feeling good about it. I didn’t know where it would end up at that stage, and I won’t (in this post at least) go into the many influences from which the idea was conceived. In any event, I sat down at my computer and wrote the first chapter, much of which remains in its original form in the finished work (notwithstanding the invaluable contribution of a meticulous editor by the name of Yosef, who threw out a whole load of ‘t’s and found much better things to do with the ‘i’s than merely dotting them!)

Since my mother always taught me the importance of keeping the lady in your life happy, I showed the fruits of my labour to my wife, who was quite impressed. This was actually crucial in terms of what happened next, because she was just as keen for me to pursue the project as I was! Accordingly, she engineered a lot more time (than she’d probably hoped at the beginning of the holiday) for the children to be busy with things that didn’t involve their daddy, which meant that I often had two/three hour chunks of time in which to work away on the script. Add that to some sessions burning more than a little of the midnight oil, and by the end of the week we were looking at a completed manuscript…

(To be continued…)