I like to guess people’s stories and their backgrounds. How they got here? Do they live here? Have they suffered? Are they happy? Why is that boy sad? Or is it just his look? Is that couple fighting or are they so used to each other they don’t need to talk? It’s a world of possibilities.
As a graduate of humanities and social sciences from Zayed University, a lot of my university studies included observation of people and social settings. In my psychology courses we learned about reading body language in order to understand others’ psyche. In another course we were asked to choose a public spot and show up for a few hours every day and observe people and social happenings for a period of time. These were my favorite projects and they subconsciously fed and tamed an existing desire and love for people-watching. I can say it made me learn to observe people better and make my analysis deeper. On the other hand, it fed my need as a writer. It gave me a base where I can be inspired by my surroundings, and then make my own analysis and my own creation. It helped me imagine, something I never thought I could do.
So when I decided that a career in the humanities would be put on hold, I turned to writing. And what a decision that was! I didn’t know where to start, what should a write about, who were my audience, etc. Until I participated in my first “Made in UAE” project with Rainer Wekwerth by UAEBBY and Geothe Institue during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair in 2013. From that day onwards I had the proper tools to embark on my journey with writing. And it stared with a novel —pending— and a blog. Soon after that I joined the newly found group of dynamic female writers, my Hunna Ladies. And the rest is history.
With the proper tools I began writing, and I realized that my writing is very character oriented. The most important element I have in my stories are the people, and it is because I see them. My characters are as real to me as the old lady holding her husband’s hand beside me in the elevator. My characters are as real as the boy having a tantrum at a Starbucks’ line. My characters are as real as the couple trying to hide their red, rage filled faces. My characters are real because they are inspired by reality and they tell real stories. And I owe all my inspiration to my people-watching.
So if you are a writer —even if you’re not— go ahead and do it. Bring along a novel and have a latte somewhere public. Keep your ears ready and let your mind go wild. Keep a notebook nearby to record your findings. Because someone out there has a story, and their story could be you next inspiration. Sometimes you might get to even initiate conversation with those strangers, and they might love it. Maybe they’ll even let you take a photograph. Maybe they will tell you their story. Or maybe they’ll think you’re weird and call security on you. Either way, you got fed something that you can use in your next character. Something you took from reality, and hid in a book.
Artwork by Fadwa Al Qasem
Hunna Blog, a peek into the pages of our notebooks and our minds. Not a literacy area rather a jungle of thoughts.