Staff members interview writers from the Visiting Author Series.
Author Rajia Hassib came to Bridgewater State University on Wednesday November 15th for the Fall 2019 Visiting Authors Series. Rajia was born in Egypt and emigrated to the United States when she twenty-three years old. She is the author of the novels In the Language of Miracles and her newest novel, A Pure Heart. Her novels encompass themes such as family, cultural identity, and tragedy. Rajia agreed to do an interview on her writing life before she read from A Pure Heart, talked about craft, and answered questions for students and faculty.
KG: What is your writing schedule like?
RH: I try to get in at least three hours of writing in every day. Get up, breakfast, coffee, and start to write maybe around nine. And usually by twelve, I’m done. Just mentally, I can’t produce writing for longer than that. But I can do other things. I can read, revise. I can edit stuff that I’ve written, but I try to maintain this three hour of writing time every morning whenever I can.
KG: What keeps you motivated when you don’t feel like writing?
RH: I read. I think this is the best thing that works for me… I read something that I enjoy. I read works from writers I respect a lot and then it’s almost kind of like envy. Prose envy. You read something that just, it could be a very nice written paragraph or a phrase or something and you just feel like, oh my goodness, this is so good. I wish I could produce something like that. And usually that gives me the little push of motivation that helps.
KG: What advice would you give to emerging writers on sending their work out to publication? What should they realistically expect?
RH: They shouldn’t limit themselves to the big-name publications. Those are very hard to get into and you get stuck in a vicious cycle if you try that because you need a CV before some of these places will even consider your work… Don’t aim too high. Any literary journal is a very good journal that would help you out a lot if it was on your CV. And getting something published is always a triumph. Don’t give up if you get rejections. Submitting and collecting those rejections is in a way also a part of your process in becoming an actual writer.
KG: What do you want readers to take away from your book?
RH: I think if I were to boil it down to one thing, it’s probably complexity. And especially when thinking about issues that deal with minorities or with people you are not familiar with because of their ethnic background or religious background. It’s tempting to believe stereotypes or to take, kind of like a headline, from the media and believe that it encompasses the experiences of an entire ethnic group or an entire religious group. Reality is much more complex than this.
KG: What are your next writing projects?
RH: I love novels, so I’ve already started another novel. I need to have a project going, and I think part of it is understanding that part of the process, the writing process, is thinking. So, you kind of have something in the back of your mind all the time, and I really need to have a specific project to be kind of contemplating all the time.
Kiana Govoni is a senior English major with minors in Asian studies and anthropology. She enjoys reading, writing, and studying languages in her spare time. She is currently working on a children’s book series. She hopes to work as a writer and English teacher after graduation.