Hello Beautiful People…
-who followed and embarked on the Sinan & Leyla journey with me these past few months. I dedicate this message to you all. Sure, it is a little presumptuous to be writing “acknowledgements” for a book that I didn’t even publish and only a handful of people read but I wrote 27 chapters! I finished this thing! So to celebrate… I’ll do it anyway! Warning; only read on if you finished the story. Spoilers!
I wish to God I knew the exact date I started to write this story. Alas, all I know is that it was roughly during the 2011/2012 time period. You may (or may not!) wonder how the idea came to me. Writing was a given, I loved it from the word go, hence blogging. What to write about was where it got tricky for me. Instead of feeling inspired when walking into bookstores, I used to feel disheartened; with SO many books out there what could I possibly write about that has not been done before?
Enter; arranged marriage.
Authors tend to say; write what you know and I knew nothing about arranged marriage; not first hand anyway. But, I belonged to the culture where that concept supposedly stems from and that was a start.
My first memory of trying to write anything with that topic in mind, involved a scene in a café with a girl called Amber and and un-named male character. It just wasn’t going anywhere though, so I left it. Then, I started to write about Leyla and (God this is too cringe to even type!) the more I wrote, the more I thought; hey, this shit is actually pretty funny!
Maybe the self-praise was a bit premature, because looking back at the first chapter, I think it was abit pants! Well, no, it’s actually nice but it needs work. Anyway, the confidence I gave myself (because I was only writing for me- ergo no pressure) encouraged me to write around 15 chapters; the most writing I had EVER done- before I eventually ran out of steam and abandoned the story completely.
Then, around two years after entering the word of blog, I was browsing some old documents on my laptop when I stumbled across Sinan & Leyla- Chapter 1 and on a whim, decided to post it one un-eventful Sunday evening. I told myself that I could always take it back down if it got mocked and ridiculed. Hashtag positive thinking, NOT 😂
I daren’t actually go back to chapter one to see the feedback it got now. But, if memory serves, a couple of people liked it and showed an interest in reading more. Maybe they were just being kind, but that was all the egging on I needed. I had around 15 chapters to play with, so every now and then I would just tweak a chapter and post it- easy.
The story didn’t go viral or anything but people were leaving lovely feedback and every other chapter gained me one or two more new readers; I didn’t expect that at all. Eventually, after I posted all the chapters I had saved on my laptop people had become so invested in the story that I thought; crap I am actually going to have to start writing the rest of the story now!!
Well, I knew I didn’t have to, it’s not like it was published and I had deadlines to meet. But I felt I owed it to everyone that had read so far to continue, and also, I liked where the story was going. I enjoyed writing it!
Some days it was a piece of cake, others I literally sat there thinking; now what? Then there was the frustration of not knowing what people really thought and whether they wanted to read more. Ultimately, I stopped thinking about all that stuff- it was just slowing the writing down, if anything.
Some people started the story and liked it but didn’t read past the initial chapters, others read one chapter and thought it was interesting but read no more. Some discovered the story at a late stage and went back to chapter one in order to catch up etc. I mean as I type this- and this is freaky- I got a notification that someone commented on Chapter 1! I kid you not!
I just want to say; thank YOU so much. Whoever you are and whatever your equation with Sinan & Leyla turned out to be, thank you for reading it, leaving comments about it, enjoying it and just giving it (and me) a chance!
I am going to miss writing it A LOT. It gave me something not only to do but to enjoy and look forward to. I honestly would be having the crappiest day at work and then think; it’s all good, I have a date with Sinan after this! Alternatively, I would be having a good day that used to get better when your comments would have me grinning from ear to ear!
To celebrate reaching 300 followers I posted some Sinan & Leyla Facts, that you can go back and read if you missed that post; it’s all riveting stuff! In it, I mentioned that I may do some more facts that I couldn’t share back then, because spoilers. Naturally, I have forgotten what they were now! Here is what I can remember, be it about the story or my writing habits;
- I planned the majority of the story in my head, but when I started to get information overload I would grab any old piece of paper (and on one occasion; a whiteboard and pen!) and brainstorm my ass off.
- I got most of my ideas for plots at work or when driving. Frustration leads to inspiration, I reckon.
- The biggest revelation was of course that Yumna; Leyla’s mother was kind of based on my late Grandfather.
- The story is fictional, but I was inspired by some (very) real life events.
- Sinan especially is fictional, he does not exist ladies. I would be married to him if he did. Much sadness. I love him, but even I found him cheesy sometimes! 😂
- I was going to make Ibby and Sinan engaged previously, but then I changed my mind on the premise that she would be easier to get over if nothing was ever official between them.
- I checked my journal for details on my Grandfather’s death to help me write Yumna’s death.
- Leyla’s father was actually one of my favourites to write. He is a git, but he makes me laugh, every time.
- I have met a lot of Ibby’s in my lifetime; so if you thought she was OTT, trust me they exist.
- The story took a very different turn when I started writing it again. Initially, I was going to have Sumeya do another event whereby she gathers a lot of people to create a magazine for a photojournalism assignment where everyone contributes photos and articles. Sinan and Leyla were to get to know each other here. Rehaan, who was a different character at that point was supposed to fall for Leyla thus creating a triangle of some sort. It got complex though and I axed it.
- So many names got changed for no rhyme or reason other than I just forgot what I had called people. For example Sinan’s other friend was called Maher in my notes, but I was watching TV when I mentioned him and someone was called Q on the show in the background; so I took that instead.
- I never noticed that Yara and Raya were anagrams of one another until much later on. This was not intentional. I just really like the name Raya. It did cause me a lot of confusion & typing errors.
- I tried so very hard not to let there be many similarities between Leyla and I in the interest of eliminating bias. Unfortunately, it was a more difficult task than I thought. Though Leyla and I do share some habits, there is more Yara and Amber in me, for sure.
- Sinan’s funny burger eating habits (i.e. fries THEN burger) stem from yours truly!
- Also, when he says he bought the Financial Times because it was a nice peachy colour- that may have been me too! I wanted to fit in ok! 😅
- The kiss between Sinan and Leyla was so awkward to write that I had to narrate it through Amber rather than Leyla. I was never going to write anything more intimate than that- too awkward.
- No one in my family has read Sinan and Leyla, if they do, I may actually have to go into hiding. They wouldn’t believe all that ‘love’ came from introverted and cynical ole’ me!
- There is so much conversation in this story- it is practically a play. That’s because I LOVE conversation.
- I am aware of how much coffee and tea was made in the story!
- Sinan proposing with ice cream wasn’t planned I literally thought of it seconds before I typed it!
- One of my favourite things that I wrote was Leyla’s absent narrative post her Ma’s death. The story was (temporarily) no longer told from her point of view because she was grieving and I love that she only became the narrator again when Sinan returned. Symbolism guys.
- The story got a lot of likes that made no sense to me, I mean I am grateful but I was not sure if the people liking it had actually read it. I still wonder if there are people out there who read the story all along but never commented on it. It’s not too late to talk to me you know! 😉