On this new resource for writers, you can find sections on the how and why of writing, writing tips, writing rituals, and more. There are already more than 200 philosophical and practical “how-to” craft essays written in and translated to Arabic, ranging from thoughts by Egyptian novelist Mansoura Ez Eldin to Anne Lamott to Abdelfattah Kilito to Neil Gaiman.
In a tweet thread that launched the site, AlEssa said it was designed as a reference for writers, readers, and researchers.
The essays, she said, can be browsed by author’s name (such as Faulkner or Gabriel Garcia Marquez) or by the name of the “heroic” volunteer-translators who brought them into Arabic. She added that the site won’t publish the results of the creative process — whether stories, poems, or novels — but rather texts about the creative process, in both its philosophical and technical aspects.
There have been a number of Arabic creative-writing workshops that have sprung up in recent years: private workshops run by Lebanese novelist Najwa Barakat, and the AFAC-funded Novel Writing Program, led by Lebanese novelist Jabbour Douaihy. Yet this may be the only Arabic-language platform dedicated solely to writing about literary craft.
Two of the most recent posts were by Nobel laureate Alice Munro, her “Reflections on Writing” translated by Alaa Nahlawi, and award-winning novelist Mansoura Ez Eldin, with “من معنى الحكاية إلى حكاية المعنى.” It opens, roughly:
In the narratives of of the three Abrahamic faiths, our life on Earth begins with misfortune and loss. We are expelled from paradise as punishment for sin. It was not us who transgressed; rather, it was Adam and Eve. But thus we lost paradise, and our life on earth became an interlinked series of attempts to limit and make sense of our losses. It also became an ongoing series of questions that seek answers.
In the art of questioning, loss is the best teacher, and it’s the best guide in a search for the meaning of our pain.
Takween is a bookshop, publishing house, an organization that fosters creative writing, and a cultural platform. They write that, “We aim to contribute to a society-wide cultural transformation through the soft power of the question, the word, and the idea.”
Bothayna AlEssa is a best-selling novelist whose All I Want to Forget has been translated to English by Michele Henjum. She is author of more than a dozen books, the most recent of which was Everything. She’s won two State Encouragement Awards and been longlisted for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.