Syukur ke hadrat Ilahi. My very first novel to be published. Thoughts? Like a never-dreamed dream come true. Frankly speaking, when I first wrote AAJ, I've never thought that it would reach this stage. Yes, I have wild thoughts and imagination, of how good would it be if this is in printed version. But at least those thoughts are not for AAJ, never I guess, for Lu'lu' & Marjan, the very least. I never imagined AAJ would get this popular. But He surely knows better, cause He works things around.
Before, many concerned readers have asked, "Kenapa tak publish AAJ?" or, "AAJ best. Patut dibukukan." or, "Nak biar di blog saja? Tak terfikir nak jadikan buku?".
My answer? Or, shall I say, answers?
I have actually submitted L&M earlier, way back earlier to KN and there was no reply. Since then, I kept quite, and I think, maybe it's best to let things work by itself. Since I myself have other things to worry about, so I think if KN didn't contact me for any publishing matter, it's not my time, yet. Allah knows better. And then, people kept asking about AAJ, and I gave the same answer. I will not repeat what I did with L&M because I strongly believe if AAJ is destined to be in printed version, it will be but it's just not the time yet. There must be good things hidden behind the delayed fate, or we call it simply as 'Hikmah'. And true enough, it's a fruitful waiting and patience. The offer came along, and I was just about to graduate, and I will surely have ample time to prepare the manuscript. During that time, Alhamdulillah, things fall in its rightful place. My patience is paid up.
Just so you know, since I've never prepared myself for this publishing stuff, so I, the rookie, wrote and published my entries with no formatting at all, capital letter, names, those kind of things never come into consideration as I translated my ideas into the monitor, that is if you ever noticed. So, when they said they wanted AAJ in full manuscript, I was seriously in a panic state. I had to correct a lot of stuff and facts and information so that it would be perfect. Not to be forgotten, the chapters arrangement. Ah, doomed. A lot of work.
And during that time, I have my thesis to be submitted, so I have to put aside AAJ for a while. I worked on my thesis which was quite catastrophic too, and rested for a week or two, and then sat in front of my laptop.
Blank. Blank. Blank.
I didn't know where to start. Not only I had to catch up from the last chapter in blog, but I also had to go through line by line. Was there any mistake? Were there mistakes of facts? Information? Being a reader myself, I know how low the tolerance readers have towards inconsistency of facts in stories. I hate that too. Lucky I have readers who are sensitive and alert enough, they had helped in pointing out some mistakes I didn't realize, making me over cautious since then every time I write. Thanks a lot.
My mood was a bit down, I admit. I corrected all the formatting stuff first, names, information, and phew. I got tired. Watched TV for hours, came back, stared at the laptop, sighed, went down and watched another series for hours, slept, ate, watched some videos, and that's it. For days I didn't click the AAJ Word icon. I just, didn't know what to write.
Ok, they made up. Nisa' and Irfan now knows very well of each others' feeling. So? What is next? That question lingered in my head and I couldn't seem to find the best answer. I have the thoughts, but to translate them into words seemed very far away.
And I'd just graduated. I had other things in mind. I didn't want to pursue my studies, writing thesis was disaster, and that was it. My degree is the highest for me. I didn't want to pursue anymore. My dream to become a lecturer was... nowhere to be seen.
With that, and AAJ due date was closing, I was desperate. I started typing and deleting and typing and again, deleting. A whole lot. I wrote another page, I deleted the whole chapter. That was how bad it went. Writing a book is never the same as writing an entry, I know that since.
I was unable to find the right opening, or sentences, or lines. Or even words. Of course I experienced that a lot but for a book? The thought of having the stuff I typed in my small table-less room in a printed version really scared me, and shall I say, toughen me? I had to do this. For my readers. For them.
I gritted my teeth and sat down. Again, another process of sitting still, thinking hard, biting nails, sighing, staring blankly, going back and forth, deleting, rewriting, another deleting, rephrasing, surfing the net for info, reorganizing the chapters, copying and pasting, and tada!!
It's done. Alhamdulillah.
But I was not at ease. Well, actually, I could have finished AAJ earlier but I kept having this thought, was it enough? Will it suffice if I were a reader and I were waiting for this my whole life and this was what I get? Will I smile happily and contentedly? Will I say, this is worth waiting and my money? Seriously RM22 is a lot. And if I were a reader, will I regret it later?
Well, I, as the author, was not happy, and contented. I kept pondering, I could do better. Couldn't I? Is this my best? And for that, I kept holding on to my manuscript, staring and scrolling from chapters to chapters, line to line, every single words that I have there kept haunting me. Yes, I was not confident. I think, for you, I am still slacking. This is not my best. But as the date closing, and mind you, I was among the late authors to send their manuscript, I said to Muzri, "Is it ok if I am a bit late? Have others send theirs in?" his reply was, "It's fine, for the quality, being late is worth it. Only you and a few others haven't send their manuscripts yet."
Late for quality? That made me hold on to my manuscript even tighter. You know, it's very hard to let go of your own ideas and thoughts, to know that sooner or later, it could either backfire you or elevate you. It depends on the crowd. For the very first time, I was nervous.
Eventually, the nervousness worn me out. I'm exhausted. To let go or not to let go, I'll have to let go one day, one fine day. And the crowd? Whatever they say, at least I have my portion in the society, and I have made impressions. Good or bad, depends on perception. And to see where it slant, send it in. Soon I will be able to know.
And with that, I clicked 'SEND', and it went in. Bye. Adios. Never come back without good news. Lucky it listened to me. It does come back with good news. Perfect.
Now, many have asked, how could I write something like that? AAJ is not an authentic real story, mind you. But what is inside? It's real.
Now, I will let you know how. Of course it's not some random ideas bustling into my head one day when I was watching TV and eating popcorn and suddenly, "Gotcha! I want to write this!". Big NO.
I wonder if you've read this book. My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson, then you might know where the idea of AAJ might have originated from. Yes, it's from there.
The book is about a black woman, Matika, who has a perfect life, a good friend named Adele, and a boyfriend, Nate. Eventually, by accident, Adele and Nate 'got together' and they have a daughter. Matika, brokenheartedly left the three and live a new life. One day, the girl, Tegan of five years old, is entrusted to her after Adele died. And there begins her life with Tegan, who reminds her of her painful past and yet, she's her only hope of living, and also Adele's last resort before she left forever.
I came across this book in 2006, and I couldn't read it during that time, since it's my friend's and there were a long queue before its my turn to grab hold of the book. So, I let it pass. Until last two years, or maybe in 2008, I bought the book myself and read it. Of course, it is an amazing story and I was all teary.
But some things couldn't leave my mind when I closed the book. What if, I said, what if, this book is about a Malay? A Muslim? How interesting could it be? And that thought remained in my mind for quite some time.
Until, in October 2008, I started writing again, and this time, I have audience. I have my readers. All this while, well, I started writing in Form 2, during that time, my friends were my readers (Khairul Bariah, Hafizah Saman, Syuhada Yusoff, Khadijah Bashri, Yang Norfaezah), and then I got enrolled in another school but I still wrote only this time, alone, no readers since I was so shy to brag about my ramblings and I wrote and kept my stories in 'disket' and I still have those 'disket' with me and my stories remain untold, until now. But the point is, I never have the confidence to show others or even tell others (other than the names I mentioned) that I love writing (maybe because when I did in lower secondary school, I got belittled. That's why.) Yes, I got discouraged. And I really despise those times.
Then, my friend, Anis Iman whom I can't thank more, introduced me to P2U and I saw a new path. A new way for me to write without others knowing me. And so I did. I then set-up My Art Pieces and I was proud of it as I started writing Kira Ayumi and then, the thought I have came up again.
Could I write about this? A Malay girl with a painful past and a bright loveless future come across a baby who has irresistible connection to the past and non-existent in the near future. How interesting could it be?
And again, I did it. Without doubts, I started the life of Nisa', and Hana, with Daniel, and Irfan who comes out of nowhere. Why is this story different from the book I read? Because I believe Islam has a better way of living, in every corner of life.
Mind you, not every one has a pure heart yet innocent like Nisa', but such person does exist, because I've met one, and I believe she would do so if she were in Nisa's shoes. But of course when I created Nisa', I haven't met the real person yet. God bless her and her soul. And bear in mind, Islam honours orphans more than anything, so does our Prophet Muhammad SAW and yet, many people despise them, and hate them more than the trash on the pavement. Why? Just because they come out of wedlocks, they deserve such curse? Just because they carry the disease of their sinful parents which they never wanted, they should be blamed for their dead suffering parents? They hate living as much as we hate them. They want to end their lives as much as we want them to go to hell.
This is why I write this book, and I put in such issues, so that we can see that life is not as what we see. The truth beyond is scarier. The characters is not merely created by myth, or simply a fiction, but they do exist. Again, I've met some of them, and God bless them.
Love is not something that can be easily portrayed, nor that it can be easily obtained. Some people portray love with materials, some by actions, either way, it's still love. Perception is what is left. Even blood can't determine to what extent the love could be prolonged, nor the least it could do. Yes, I acknowledge the saying of "Blood is thicker than water", but remember, water could shape the hardest rock ever by time, and a tidal could kill in a blink, such giving no reason to underestimate what water could do.
Love is pure, but accompanied by evil feelings, it's suicidal, and contagious. It's better to keep it as pure as it is, yet it's extremely hard that one could take a life for failing to do so. Again, love is not that simple when we give ways to Iblis and his ever-ready armies.
In conclusion, this is AAJ. What I wish to say, what I wish to express, what I wish others to see, what I wish others would remember other than those trivial but necessary parts, I have them all in AAJ. I have done my part. I have given my best, Allah knows how hard it is to stay in the right path.
Now, it's up to you. To take it merely as another story or novel to be added into your collection, or as a reminder to always live up to the way Islam asks us to do. It's in your hands. Your choice. My parts, for this novel, have been completed. I have accomplished what I want, and I thank Allah for that. My only hope? My readers could see the implications, and not merely the words.
I thank Allah for granting me courage to start, and I promise, I'll stop only when I am not in my right mind anymore, or when my soul has left this originally lifeless body and returned to the rightful owner. I'll keep writing. And I will continue to give my best. So that I could see the best of you too.
The day has come, and I don't feel discouraged anymore, and I'm confident with what He gave me, because I know, finally I am able to do something good with it. Here I am, standing as Anarif, and I'm proud of it.
Here and now, I present to you, Anaknya, Anakku Jua.
Note to self: I wrote this on 25th of May 2011, in Baiduri, Shah Alam. A bright sunny day, with no sign of rain. A beautiful day. ^^