#48: I'm not very human right now

Plus, the freedom of natural curls and going against the regime of '3aib'.

Hi, I’m Alya Mooro and you’re reading The Greater Conversation, a weekly newsletter honestly addressing all aspects of life through the eyes of a Middle Eastern / third-culture / woman / human. Alternately, there’ll be some thoughts from me, or a guest piece, along with recommendations of articles, books*, podcasts and etc worth consuming. If you’ve just subscribed, welcome! If this issue was forwarded to you, add your email to join the list.

Perhaps it’s normal at the tail-end of a year in which I’ve done almost nothing but work that I am increasingly missing the other elements of myself; of my life.

When the pandemic hit and lockdown was announced and I came back to London from Los Angeles and found myself alone in my flat with hours and days and what would end up being whole months ahead of me, I did what I always do: I filled them all up as much as I could with work, with words, with projects that would define and distinguish my days as much as they could be asked to.

It’s been fruitful, in many ways. And yet - being a human is central to being an artist, too. And I’m not very human right now.

I came across a tweet the other day that read: “Y’all gotta quit lying to young writers and telling them they need to write every day. Nah, y’all need to go watch a movie. Listen to folklore. Talk to your friends. That’s what’s going to make the work sing. I think we forget that being a human is central to being an artist too.”

It’s the same message Julia Cameron shares in The Artist’s Way, what is a life-changing book that’s been credited with inspiring the genius of the likes of Elizabeth Gilbert, Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. With 12 weeks worth of exercises and staples like the Morning Pages and the Artist’s Date, the book promises to help us rediscover our passions and ultimately unlock and heal the human in us.

The Artist’s Date, explains Cameron, is a weekly date that we take our inner artist on in order to replenish the well. It can be anything from dancing to going to a museum, watching a movie or going for a long walk in the park - anything that entertains your inner artist; that replenishes or excites them. Anything that brings out the human. It’s the only part of the book that I’ve been consistently not that great about. Because I’ve got deadlines, because I’m too tired, because I find myself de-prioritising and making excuses. Because I am coming second to my work.

It’s a conversation I’ve been having a lot lately. In particular with my fellow creative friends. Whether (and why) creatives have bought into capitalism, into the idea that more is better, that if we’re not constantly churning stuff out, we’re not good enough.

There are many reasons for this, of course, not least fear of a next pay-check, but also, social media pressures that say you’re only as good as your last, that you should have an opinion – and have shared it – about everything. In an IGTV? On TikTok? In a room on Clubhouse? In a brainiac 3,000 word think-piece in which you simultaneously solve all the problems of the world? Or perhaps a perfectly worded 280-character Tweet?

I kind of feel like I’ve been doing too much. And yet, also not enough.

I’m currently working on a couple of big projects that I’m really excited about. One in particular I’ll be able to share very soon. It’s not a book, but still something I have been able to sink my teeth into. Something that is out of my comfort zone.

It’s weird when you’re working on something that won’t immediately see the light of day. For me, it fuels that doing too much yet not enough thing. It raises the question: At what point have you succeeded? At the moment of creation, in the creating, or at the moment that creation is shared?

Anyway.

As Rupi Kaur put it so brilliantly, “I will never have this version of me again, let me slow down and be with her.” Or try to, anyway.

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I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off this newsletter to work on some of those aforementioned big projects, and making more time to be a human, too. BRB April 22nd x

TGC alternates weekly between a guest piece and my own shares. If you identify as a Middle Eastern woman and would like to contribute a guest piece, please email me. You can share anonymously too if you prefer.

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  • Book: I’ve just started reading The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read every single one of her books and that’s no exaggeration. Nor is it a small feat considering just how many books she’s written. All are absolutely brilliant and always thought-provoking. Her latest release asks the question: Who would you be, if you hadn't turned out to be the person you are now?

  • Newsletter: "If nothing is guaranteed — if a baseline level of justice, equality and the avoidance of ecosystem collapse are an open question — then do you want to go down swinging, fighting for those things with your regular efforts and the broader aims of your life? Or would you like to continue devoting all your efforts to achieving under the broken status quo?" Rosie Spinks on going down swinging.

  • Podcast: I really enjoyed this episode of the Goodness Podcast in which host Noor chats with Dr. Maha Nasrallah-Babenko about sexual dysfunction and function in the Middle East, the most common issues she’s observed while practicing, and more.

  • This is not the time to be panicking about your 'Post Lockdown Body'.

  • "Remember when you did the cha-cha slide, popped and locked, stepped and bounced, worked the week off your bones, let your spirit stretch out across the dance floor, let the bartender and the DJ be your gurus?"

  • The freedom of natural curls: Egypt’s quiet rebellion.

  • Love love love this intelligent and thoughtful read by Lina Mounzer on going against the regime of '3aib' [shameful].

  • "At the very least we should not feel that the police are an additional threat; at the very least we should not have to ask them to do their job." Zoe Beaty on why an inquiry into the Met Police’s handling of women’s safety is long overdue.

Last week, we lost an icon. In light of Dr Nawal El Saadawi's passing, I wrote about the huge impact the OG Egyptian feminist has had on my life, and why it's so important to see yourself in feminism.

Read the piece here


A quote from a book you should read:

“To those who ask why they waited so long to tell their stories, I say the real question is, what gave them the courage to tell their stories even now?” - Jennifer Palmieri, Dear Madam President.



Thanks for subscribing! I'm Alya, the person behind this newsletter. I am a freelance journalist and the bestselling author of The Greater Freedom: Life as a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes. You can follow me on Instagram here, and Twitter here.
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