Emirati Author Eman Al Yousuf on Writing While Female

I started attending workshops, I became really serious about it. After reading, participate in lot of workshops. Throughout the ongoing 2017 Emirates LitFest,   ArabLit will be running a feature on Arab women writers and their varied journies with writing. EY:   It began with reading. From the day you are born, people treat you as a girl. I believe that any writer should be a good reader, first. I was just a very curious kid, always asking a lot of questions. Just read for the sake of reading. For example, the Emirate Novel Award that was started three years ago:   Every year, the overall winner has been a woman. It got to a point where my parents could no longer answer my questions. So books actually saved my life in many ways, at many stages of my life when I had problems, obstacles. We’ll start filming in a couple of weeks. Okay, so onto how I became I writer. I wanted everyone to know how they cope, that’s why I wrote the book. EY:   Okay, so onto how I became I writer. Now, though, I have a number of people who write that I know and trust. EY:   First, when I started writing, for my first and second book, I used to only show my drafts to my mom. I studied Chemical Engineering. I was born to do this. Again, a lot of male writers have written about women or have written from female points of view in their books, and they do so really well. EY: Yes, definitely. After some time, they got frustrated with my constant questioning:   “Please stop asking us all these questions!”
So I started looking for the answers in books. So I wanted to have a book about them. And then it became more than a game. We have a lot of women here who write, and they write good stuff. Some writers think they have it the first time round, but you’ll get a better outcome the second or third time. I really hope people will like the story. Certain things are expected from you. What advice would you give them? But they were kind of boring sometimes. Advertisements

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March 5, 2017 • 1:12 pm

Ù … رحبا Ù … ارسيا كيفك؟
رواية اي٠… ان التي فازت بالجائزة هي نتاج Ù … حترف للكتابة أشرفت عليه ض٠… ن برنا٠… ج دبي الدولي للكتابة
ليتك أو ليتها ذكرت ذلك على الأقل
Ù … ع التحية والشكر

Reply ↓ But I decided no, writing is what makes me happy and what I was born to do. All these questions are addressed in my book by the writers themselves. I also discovered through reading, and most of the time fell in love with the characters in the books I was reading. I felt a great loss, and I couldn’t read any other novel because it would be cheating. I mean what makes up the majority of a writer are the experiences that he’s had, the way he’s been raised, and how people look at him. How would you mentor young women writers today? What could have happened if he didn’t do this, or didn’t do that. One of my questions whenever I met any writer who had a separate career at the same time was, “How do you manage, balance, everything that is going on in your life?”   Being a daughter, a mother, a grandmother —   being a working woman isn’t easy. I would just seclude myself and read a book. I love chemistry, I love math. But I think a woman can do it better. From the moment you open your eyes, people treat you differently according to the stereotypes they hold true —   stereotypes about the female gender. It eventually turned into good writing. I believe that no man has experienced what a woman has. If the book isn’t good, don’t finish it. She’s the best critic: She was straightforward and brutally honest with me. All of these are different for women than they are for men. I never thought I could write. For example, I interviewed poets, playwrights, authors of children’s literature as well as literary critics…so it’s very diverse. I studied Chemical Engineering. Do you think this would be a valuable resource to have in English as well? As I am in this field, I know that we have a lot of talented writers, especially women. It’s all about three generations of Emirati women, each at a different key stage of life: one in her 20s, one in her 40s, and one in her 70s. Sawad Hussain   is a Cambridge-based editor-at-large for ArabLit who is also an Arabic translator and litterateur who holds a MA in Modern Arabic Literature from the School of Oriental and African Studies. Then I came to the realization that, whenever you read a good book, it stays with you forever. EY:   First of all, read, a lot. Photo credit: Sawad Hussain
Eman Al Yousuf: I found that, either when I researched online or at the library   — anywhere I went — I wouldn’t find any books that would write or talk about Emirati writers,   especially women. I would look at one of my professors and just add some characters next to him. We hope inshallah it will be shown in the Dubai Film Festival at the end of this year. Do you ever share your drafts with a close friend or family member? I started interviewing them, collecting information. She is passionate about all things related to Arab culture, history and literature. For example, the first classic book I read was The Count of Monte Cristo (in Arabic). A lot of people say, “try to finish it,” but I have a 25% rule. I then started moving on to a lot of classics, and every time I fell in love with a character, whether it be a man or a woman, they would stay with me forever and really change me. I’m also working on a short film script and am already in talks with the director. Lastly, do you think you would be a different writer if you were a man? By Sawad Hussain
What led you to write your recent book on Emirati women authors? It’s like any other practice, doctors keep studying, keep updating their knowledge, so writers should do so as well. EY:   I have a collection of short stories that will be published very soon. When reading, don’t stress yourself out thinking, I have to imitate this author’s writing, or that I’m reading to write. Are you working on anything at the moment? But I think a woman can do it better. I found out that writing is my passion. People whose writing I admire, and whose opinion I value. When writing, write like no one is ever going to read your work. But they were kind of boring sometimes. But I will give every book a chance, even if it’s a new writer, their first book, unknown —   they’ll have a chance with me. I also tried to have a variety of writers included. Therefore yes, I would be a different writer. So I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering, worked for a while, but then left my career as an engineer and became a full-time writer. The title is Baydh ‘Uyun, Sunny Side Up. I’d give him a new name, a different family…it became a game. If I couldn’t find one, I would write one about these women. They dress you in pink. Make sure to proofread your work and have a number of drafts. I love chemistry, I love math. Even if you have published two or three books. Most people told me: keep writing as a hobby and continue as an engineer. The   first of them   is an interview with Emirati author   Eman Al Yousuf, the young Emirates Novel Award-winning writer, who is establishing herself on the literary scene through her poignant short-story collections and novels. So yes, for my fourth and fifth books, I did share the drafts with about five or six people —   and I knew they’d be honest with me. How did your journey with writing begin? At the moment this book is only available in Arabic. I read a quarter of the book and if by then I’m still not hooked, then I won’t continue. Again, a lot of male writers have written about women or have written from female points of view in their books, and they do so really well. So during the lab sessions, during the lectures, I used to imagine characters that I would see around me.   There is a thread that connects them all   — the obstacles that they face. Never stop improving your craft. When I started reading, I wasn’t thinking of writing at all. It’s like any other practice, doctors keep studying, keep updating their knowledge, so writers should do so as well. EY:   I’m currently in discussions with the publishing house Kuttab about this. They are interested in having it translated, as a lot of people who don’t speak Arabic are curious about Arab writers, Arab women who write, what they write about, and Emirati literature in particular. Although she doesn’t have the experience of being a writer…it’s good because she’s like any average reader. I fell in love with this novel and, after finishing it, I cried for a week.