In this week’s blog, we interviewed, ‘Nadia’ on using pen names, Lena Dunham and how writing ‘barged’ into her life.
Hi Nadia, how are you, today?
I’m very well thank you. How are you?
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a British, Pakistani Muslim woman who started a blog about my life six years ago. Outside of my writing, I’m a crocheting, guitar playing, pie baking, long haired, Chanel loving spoonie. My parents are my heroes. They have taught me the true meaning of strength and resilience; and that you should always take the time to learn and acquire new skills because each one enriches your life beyond measure.
I went to an all girls private school, so I was terrified of boys for a very long time. When it comes to literature, tv and film, I love a strong female lead with moxy. My favourite play is, Not About Heroes by Stephen MacDonald. The most valuable thing I’ve ever heard at a work conference was this: There is no such thing as a career ladder, it’s a climbing frame. There are a million different routes to your chosen goal or career, so take as much time as you need but keep going.
You said you studied law. Did you intend to practice? I know a few people who studied, but never intended to enter the profession.
I did indeed. Almost everyone in my family is a lawyer or studied law so it was an extremely logical leap for me after university. I don’t intend to practice, I never did, really.
After I lost my father, my post grad became an anchor for me. It helped me to feel closer to him and, ultimately, made it easier for me to start accepting a reality without him in it. I would sit in the law library studying away and I’d feel as though he was sat with me. It was incredibly comforting and I needed it at the time but, currently, I have no plans or desire to enter the legal profession.
Did you find writing or did writing find you?
Oh, it found me. It barged right into my life, swung me about and convinced me to run away with it.
Your writing style is confessional, would you agree? Was this intentional, or something you fell into?
I suppose it is, isn’t it? My original intention was just to have a space to express my most private thoughts. For years, my blog was hidden away and very difficult to find (because I’m Batman). So, by the time I decided to give it more visibility, the overall tone and frankness was second nature. I think writing under a pseudonym helps too. It affords me the freedom to be as candid as I like without reprisal or inviting discussion in my everyday life.
How did you feel the first time you saw your published work?
Shy, elated, and overwhelmed. Being able to write for a living was always a far away, nebulous idea I thought I could never realise. Although I’m not completely where I want to be yet, having one foot on the ladder is a joy and privilege I am thankful for every day.
What are the creative challenges of juggling your two ‘characters’: the pseudonym and your real one?
On one hand, it’s incredibly liberating but, on the other, it can be somewhat tricky. There are achievements and projects in my professional life, as Mrs X, that I wish I could talk about on the blog and in my freelance work. Similarly, there are strides I have made as Nadia that I would love to incorporate into Mrs X’s professional career. But, ultimately, I do enjoy the privacy this separation affords me so, having to shuffle things around a bit and omit certain details is an acceptable loss, all things considered.
What’s a typical day for you like?
Well, currently, it’s quite atypical to my normal routine as I’m taking time away from work to have treatment. I don’t write about this part of my life much but will do when I’m on the mend.
Physical health aside, half the week, I get up, eat a healthy breakfast and go to work listening to my favourite podcasts, often laughing to myself in public. Then I come home, put on some classical music and unwind with Mr Imposter and we have dinner together. The other half of the week, I deal with My Life As An Imposter emails and enquires, write and schedule my posts, work on my freelance writing projects and meeting my deadlines.
I try to rest and take breaks when I need to, make sure I take time for myself and, when I’m healthy, to see friends and family. I love entertaining in my home, almost as much as I love a good book, a nice cup of Earl Grey, and my bean bag unicorn, Betty (she’s amazing).
So. Lena Dunham. Tell us about that.
Well, I got the email and nearly jumped out of my skin. It was incredibly overwhelming and humbling and, of course, I said I’d love to be involved. I find it so encouraging that there’s a dialogue around Muslim women and what we want for our own lives. After the emails, we worked out dates, they hired a studio near me, patched in, and we talked for a few hours. I was, and remain, so honoured to have been part of Women of the Hour.
What are your thoughts on the role of technology in the writing and publishing today?
I think it moves us forward and captures new audiences in ways that were previously impossible. But, more importantly, it has become the engine of creation. My entire life, I thought the lack of diversity in publishing was because there simply weren’t enough writers of colour out there; but technology and new media provide a visibility we simply didn’t have before. It’s an interesting time we live in, the entire world sits in the palm of your hand, you just need to unlock your phone. It makes both content creation and consumption easier and more accessible and, with that, comes a more varied and diverse voice. Some may argue this is a terrible thing but I happen to think it’s fantastic. It has leveled the playing field in ways we don’t even understand yet.
We ‘met’ via Twitter’s #journorequest. Some journalists have complained about the hashtag being ‘hijacked by bloggers’. What is your response to this?
I would say, journalists are sharp, resourceful, intelligent people. I’m sure one hashtag isn’t going to bring the house of cards tumbling down.
What does the future look like for writers?
How it has always looked, like a blank page full of possibility.
Thanks so much for your time, Nadia
You’re very welcome, it was my pleasure.
Nadia blogs at My Life as an Imposter.
Also published on Medium.