SOMETHING FELT, NOT PHOTOGRAPHED

In this article, I sat down with Malaysian author Nisah Haron to talk about her experiences as a writer. Haron, a former lawyer, left the world of legal affairs to pursue a full-time career in writing and storytelling in 2006. She was a member of the University of Iowa International Writing Program. She was just 17 when her literary career began with the publication of her first work, Di Sebalik Wajahmu, Aries [Aries’ Masquerade]. Her popular works include Cinta Sangkuriang Rindu Oedipus [Sangkuriang’s Love, Oedipus’ Longing], a collection of short stories published in 2006 that has been translated into English, and Lemang Nan Sebatang [The Lemang Soliloquy], which earned her the Ujana Malaysia Premier Literary Award. Here is the link for the full story: The Daily Iowan Link

By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin

Nisah Haron enjoys a good challenge.

The Malaysian lawyer left her post in the world of legal affairs to pursue a full-time career solely in writing and storytelling in 2006. Now, she is a member of the University of Iowa International Writing Program.

For the writer, books are everything. She started reading at the age of 4 and, while growing up, knew she would be a writer one day.

She started by sending in 10 short stories to a local magazine outlet called Dewan Siswa as a teenager.

Despite not getting her work published on the first try, she did not stop until it finally accepted her work.

She was just 17 when her literary career began with the publication of her first work, Di Sebalik Wajahmu, Aries [Aries’ Masquerade].

“The euphoria of having your first work published perhaps gave me the best motivation to move on,” Haron said. “From there, I started writing my next story again and again.”

Her popular works include Cinta Sangkuriang Rindu Oedipus [Sangkuriang’s Love, Oedipus’ Longing], a collection of short stories published in 2006 that has been translated into English, and Lemang Nan Sebatang [The Lemang Soliloquy], which earned her the Ujana Malaysia Premier Literary Award.

Haron’s writing ideas come from her own personal daily inspirations, she said.

“Every day, there is always something that you would like to tell someone, and you can’t wait to tell that story,” she said. “Something happened, an incident, it doesn’t have to be unique, but interesting enough to tell it from your own version and way.”

The structure of her storytelling and ideas was enhanced by her career as a lawyer, Haron said.

“As a practice, I noticed that I was actually telling a story to the judge, but it’s a true story from the perspective of my client,” she said. “I was trained to project my thoughts, and that really helps me in my writing, and although I never really noticed that then, I realize it now.”

The writer is on a “sabbatical” from writing novels in order to discover a new style of writing. However, she is still writing nonfictions and travelogues.

The dangers of constantly writing, she said, is falling into the trap of producing predictable works with the same style – something she wants to avoid.

“I would like to produce something different each time; that is my goal,” she said. “Until I can do that, I will try not to write and will refrain myself from writing, or else it will be just another piece.”

Besides writing short stories and novels, Haron also enjoys writing travel logs based on the Cities of Literature she has visited.

“Initially, I didn’t plan it as a book; it’s just that I love to travel,” she said.

Haron said she wanted to visit the UNESCO Cities of Literature because of how well they acknowledge their writers.

“When you travel, there are many reasons you want to travel; I picked literature,” she said.

The experience of being in Iowa City was a bit different from the other UNESCO literary cities, Haron said, because she had to be in the city for a certain period of time to understand it as a City of Literature.

“Iowa City is something that you feel, as opposed to other places, which are something you see and take photos,” she said.

 

 

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