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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sea Side - A First Novel


I've been on a journey of self discovery for the last nine months. It all started in July 2009 when one of my favorite bloggers and my dearest friend Mariyah posted a simple and beautiful entry. For those of you who are not familiar with Mariyah, she is an exceptionally gifted writer from Damascus, who over the course of twenty six episodes told the story of her parents in the form of an inspiring and heart warming fairy tale. I asked her then if this Sea Side, as she called it, was going to be another Ghassan & Alexandra. Instead of giving a straight answer she invited me to join her in co-writing a story with the backdrop of the Syrian Coast. How could I ever say no to a beautiful lady like Mariayh?

Privately, however, I felt a little awkward. I've never written anything longer than a few pages. I've never written fiction. I've never written with another person. Yet my deepest desire had always been to write a novel someday. My problem was not one of lack of self-confidence but rather of lack of time. It's not an unfounded excuse on my part. Some people may indeed function better under pressure but I was not wired like that. I write when I'm happy, or at least unconcerned about the outside world and the mundane necessities of every-day's life. Had I been self-sufficient enough not to work yet to bring up three children in the best possible circumstances I would've not minded an early retirement from “employment” to devote my time to reading and writing. Mariyah's invitation was in no way a challenge but the motivation I lacked to give it a shot and thus our journey began.

We alternated in writing subsequent chapters while we maintained a disciplined routine. We published a new episode every Friday and we did not consult directly or agree in advance on a plot. Our story weaved its own way through our words and the four main characters were developed in almost real time. The fact that neither one of us had control over the flow of events meant that a high degree of unconscious mental coordination and an unspoken synergy have to come into play. We continued to surprise each other while enjoying ourselves to the fullest. I had never partnered with anyone before on a creative process and now that it's finally over I want Mariyah to know what a joy, what an honor and a complete emotional and intellectual alleviation she had brought me.

Sea Side takes place in and around Tartous. It's a romantic love story at best, something I never expected or anticipated that I might write someday. But to say anything less than that I'm very proud of it would be an understatement. This is the ever elusive first step and I took it after Mariyah extended her hand and led the way. Now I know for sure how much I want to write and I will unearth every bit of time to do just that.

I have to thank you Mariyah for being my companion by the Sea Side. I already miss Yazan, Yasmina and Youssef but I'm going to miss Amar most. Your words made her unimaginably beautiful while mine only mirrored your charming writing and elegant style. If I ever publish one day the writing of Sea Side will remain my most cherished memory of all. It is after all my first novel.

If I may Mariyah, I am going to ask you to do me a little favor. I want you to write, at your own time, a short story and grace my blog with it. This is of course an open invitation, with the key for you to keep. Come by any time and write here without even letting me know beforehand. Not only once but a hundred thousands times and more. My blog is your blog now and always.

Mariyah and I have set out to have fun but we ended up with much more than we bargained for. Accordingly I have to also thank our friends who commented there on Sea Side and kept us company for 38 consecutive weeks. No matter what our humble effort into writing our first novel turned out to be we have both gained your friendship. How in the world can I be happier?

Links:
Ghassan & Alexandra
Mariyah's Blog
Mariyah's Invitation

28 comments:

BIL said...

Abufares, it is so nice to hear that your adventuresome novel is complete…Congratulations! I know that this was a large undertaking given that you do not have much free time with your busy schedule and all. I applaud you in going for the gold, as I have read some of the chapters of your book. One has to be able to take on a” mission impossible” every now and then to have an inner challenge. The expressions in the book expressed by both of you are no less than brilliant. My hope is we can sit down over a glas or cup of “whatever” and discuss the other challenges we may both have. I see in this post a vibrant “old Abufares” that has to life and found joy in writing again. I know from experience there are times when it all seem s just a bit too much. But that is what is so amazing about us…we have it in us to drive on. Again Congratulations to the both of you. Pass on my greetings to everyone and take care. BIL

Mariyah said...

Abufares, this journey with you has been most delightful. Sea Side is a story that will always be special to me for several reasons. I found our characters most endearing and our story exciting. I enjoyed having a group of loyal readers who were so encouraging. Lastly (but not least), every second Friday I could immerse myself in your beautiful writing. If somehow I managed to encourage you to write more, than I pat myself on the back. You should always write, and I shall always be here to remind you! :) Thank you, my friend, for everything.

sasa said...

Ya Abu Fares. You and Mariyah have created a gem. And in the most beautiful way. The ping-pong nature of your co-authoring made it even more exciting: the authors didn't know what would come next.

You know, I still haven't read the final part. I've been saving it for a special moment. I think I might read it this Friday. I'll miss those four.

And hurry up with the next story you two!

Gabriela said...

I miss all these four excellent characters you both had the kindness to create for us. I miss the excitement every Friday morning came with.
As a faithful reader who went with through the whole adventure I encourage you to get along in a new one.
:D
All the best, now and always my dear friend...

Karin said...

Sea Side became a part of my weekly routine, one I was eagerly awaiting every Friday! I loved the characters, the plot, the drama ...and the sweetness and depth of compassion and love! I miss it alot and wish, it woulod go on ... and on but as everything has come to an end for to give room to a new beginning (gosh, how philosophical) I understand Sea Side had to reach that point as well.

You and Mariyah did a MAGNIFICANT job! I can not think of anyone who would have ever gotten close to narrating the wonderful and capturing way you did, of describing and tickling the soul and, yes, sometimes tear-ducts of the reader ...

One more thing ... all I can say here is that SEA SIDE came damn close to one of my cherished skeletons in the proverbial closet! Possibly, this is why I can relate to the characters, especially, Amar and Youssef, that well ..

Thanks so much for the fantastic journey, the happiness and tears ... EVERYTHING!!

Mariyah, I'd love to meet with you sometime in the future ... is there any chance you'll come this way one day?

Big hug! :-)

KJ said...

If you don't published this (with the beautiful cover!) I will be really, really mad!

abufares said...

@BIL
You are always so supportive. Now that I know that you've read a few chapters (and liked) of Sea Side I'm even happier.
TIME!!! There's never enough of it I'm afraid and the good ones are notorious for slipping out of our hands.

abufares said...

@Mariyah
I think we have thanked each other enough over the last few months. It was such a pleasure to hold hands on this journey. Don't forget my request :-) I mean I don't want to pressure you or anything but I really want that post(s) of yours to grace my blog. Don't make me wait too long please.

Give me your little hand...
mwah :-)

abufares said...

@sasa
When I read comments such as yours I can't help but feel ecstatic. I've enjoyed writing with Mariyah beyond my capacity to express in words. I wouldn't let her get off the hook that easily. I'm scheming and hoping that we will write together again. Perhaps not in the next few weeks but I think eventually I might ask her, as simply as she had done before, to join me in co-authoring a second work of fiction.

abufares said...

@Gabriela
Thank you querida. You've read my reply to sasa above... I'm up to something and the best food is always one that is cooked over a very low fire.

abufares said...

@Karin
Sometimes I feel that you have not only read Sea Side but were able to read (me) behind the lines.
I have to admit that I'm blessed with a vivid mind but if anyone (including myself) believe that Sea Side is entirely a figment of imagination they will be giving (me) too much credit.
Nothing comes from a void and words, in particular, are nurtured deep in the heart with all the love and affection only an endearing memory or an unbound hope can provide.

abufares said...

@KJ
Well you're right. The cover is beautiful :-)
and...
I don't like to get you mad!

Joseph said...

I have an infinite love for beautiful things, Abufares, like for example, the music of certain words, the smell of freshly baked bread and the smell of earth, especially after the first rain, the smell of my mother’s hands, the shape of ❤Kirsten’s little feet and Oh! her giggles... ❤❤Pia, little sister to the stars, the way she says baba and the way she sings her songs for me...
And although I very often complicate matters yet, it’s among the most simple things where I find solace...
As such, being here almost 3 years from stumbling upon “For the love of Shanklish”, reading your blog or the journey, Mariyah and yourself took us on through “Sea Side” was nothing less than beautifully sung lullabies to a child’s ears...
Congratulations, Abufares once again for Sea Side and for your perseverance in maintaing a blog.
My heart jumped out when I saw the book cover design on “Sea Side - A First Novel”.
I don’t know if Mariyah passed on to you how I came about designing the book cover for “Sea Side”, ...well, I was working on a desktop wallpaper design for your new HP laptop, yes the little one!, as a good luck and mabrouk token when the idea struck me. I gave it a shot and voila, my humble design which, I have taken a liking to. Thanks to, Mariyah and you, Abufares for adopting the book cover design like you guys did. Sorry for never finishing the wallpaper though... You will learn of how lazy I could be, Abufares. :-)

It would be great to see Mariyah write not one, but many short stories on your blog. In my opinion, it will bring a new dimension to your blog and attract different types of readers which in turn, can only be a positive and good thing for both Mariyah’s blog and yours, Abufares. Good luck to that too.

Take care my friend.


❤ Kirsten, my wife.
❤❤ Pia, our daughter, 3 in July.

Isobel said...

Congratulations, Abufares, to you and Mariyah! What a big undertaking, writing for so long. Both of your styles were well matched and it was a beautiful story. I absolutely love the cover and, frankly, I echo KJ's comment...how exciting would it be to see it in print? I want an autographed copy! :)Good luck with your future writing. I hope we all get to read it!

abufares said...

@Joseph
Your comment is nothing short of a beautiful literary essay. But what's new? I always found your writing exceptionally deep and inspiring.
Mariyah and I adopted the book cover you designed for us because it matched our story to a stunning degree.
I'm very glad you made it clear to Mariyah that her presence on my blog (from now on) is something you as a reader will appreciate. I can of course read her words on her blog but I feel a need to have them here on mine too. This in a way reassures me that Sea Side is indeed only the beginning.

abufares said...

@Isobel
I'm so happy that you read our story. Our styles ran in parallel in the beginning, conversing and diverging until ultimately they merged by the Sea :-)
KJ's idea tickled my heart, although he's too clumsy to realize it, lolll.
Until you comment on my posts they remain unfinished and unfulfilled. Thank you for your beautiful presence.

ayman.hakki said...

Abufares.
Congratulations, doing something like this for the first time is hard. You were lucky to have Maryiah. I wish you both a life time of stories and adventures. I'm a little techno-challenged, so how can I read the whole book? Can you e-mail it to me, or attach it or something, I'll reciprocate by sending you my first short story, and you may post it…if you like it. It's a little R-rated. It may also be too controversial since it seems autobiographical, especially when you've known the characters in it since you were very young.
Ayman.

abufares said...

@Ayman
Thank you for being here.
We're currently working on editing Sea Side to prepare it for printing and off-line reading.

Meanwhile, it's available online on Mariyah's Blog and all you have to do is click the link and you'll get it all in one (long) page.

I would like to read your story.

Ruslan Trad said...

Congrats! Where i can buy:))) or send me with DHL :)))

ayman said...

Send me your e-mail address via an e-mail) abufares so I can attach it and send it, and thanks. aymanhakki@msn.com

Neetu said...

Hi Abufares,
It was a great pleasure even in waiting every friday and sometimes i have to wait till sunday (if net not available) but it was always worth waiting. Now i m gonna miss it but congrats and all the very best to both of u. looking ofrward to have more from you and mariyah and would love to have a copy of the printed version direct from you opne day when i'll b there.
take care and all the very best.

abufares said...

@Ruslan
Thank you:-)
Now you've got me thinking. May be after we finish editing our story we should do something about it!

abufares said...

@ayman
will do

abufares said...

@Neetu
Thank you so much for keeping us company during the writing of Sea Side.
OK, we are really working on editing the story right now, both Mariyah and I.
As soon as we finish we will consider our options.

Joseph said...

Your kind words, Abufares are always humbling. Thank you my dear friend.

I'm glad to learn that you guys are editing "Sea Side" for publishing. All the best of luck to both of you.

Joseph said...

Abufares, if you allow me, I would like to give thanks to Isobel & KJ for their kind comments on the book cover design.

Thank you.

Isobel said...

You're welcome, Joseph. :) You're very talented.

Joseph said...

Isobel, thank you. :-)