April 22, 2014
I began working on the craft of fiction writing about 7 years ago. Though courses and books can be useful, I have come to realize there is no better way to improve my craft by sharing my work with other writers and engaging in dialogues with them. My membership in a writing group over the past few years has been the main force guiding my development as a writer. I hope the mentorship of an established writer will be a logical succession in the evolution of my writing.
What compelled me to write The Other Side of the Mountains was to investigate the unpredictability of life. A universal human trait is to form conceptions of the world we’re in and try to plan for the future based on them. Yet the world around us can change in an instant. My mother was an important inspiration for the story, as her struggles to deal with the constant upheaval of revolution, war, and migration offered a great many examples.
The myth that drives Mountains was born naturally out of the context of the story of a situation of an immigrant single mother and son. I added the device of a mythical father. It fit in well because it symbolized ideals that people create and believe in order to face the constantly changing, imperfect world. In the story, a single mother tells her son of a dead father who was perfect in every way, with the hope that the boy will emulate her ideal man. The myth also reflects the wider theme of the Iranian revolution. After any revolution there’s a sort of “belief vacuum” and the people who want to fill the vacated sets of power must offer people new myths to believe.
I prefer classic storytelling. I like to extrapolate a seed idea in my head, follow the arc to the end, until I know what the resolution will look like. Once I can conceive it, I can believe it and write it.
I suppose the zaniest thing about me these days is my desire to own a farm. I live in a 21st-floor apartment with an almost-south-facing balcony. In the summer I turn it into a jungle of zucchini, tomato, cucumbers, and herbs in every free square inch of the balcony.
If I were king of the world, I would just make it so that nobody else wrote; I’d be the only writer in the world. In seriousness though, my true answer is that I would change nothing. Because the writer that I am and the writer that everybody else is came to be in an imperfect world, so I wouldn’t change anything. I’d just keep writing. If the world was perfect there would be nothing to write about.
By 2024, I’ll hopefully be sharing my craft with people through a decent established body of work, and continuing to tackle my assembly line of story ideas.