When I published my first book last year on Amazon, many people asked me, why do you write in English? Anyone who knows me in person or follows me on the online social networks knows that I always express myself in Arabic whether in writing or in speaking. Arabic is my mother tongue, which I should have mastered more than the English language. So, why I did write in English?
By the end of 2016, I decided to take a break from politics and resigned from all partisan positions as I couldn’t handle any more stress. I did not, and still don’t expect any change in the Egyptian political power balance, nor I could help in shifting anything on the political scene.
At that time, I started to run on a regular basis and wanted to document my transformation experience, from being a couch potato to becoming a long-distance runner. I started my blog “A Runner’s Reflections.” I have found the English language, a more appropriate way to express myself, I wanted to address different audience other than the politically interested audience that had been reading to me before.
Since I had more leisure time after taking a break from political activism, I had more time to read, and running gave me more time to listen to the various programs available through Podcasts. Through which I learned about science and issues that I did not care or even know it existed before. With every episode, my vision widened, and I listened and read even more.
I felt that I have found a humanity treasure and needed to share it with the world. I have noticed that the podcast-sphere lacked adequate Arabic content and I thought that it was my duty to introduce at least my circle of influence to the podcast world. I decided to produce Istqlal.Podcast, a cultural program to discuss ideas in Arabic.
On turning 40 years old, I thought a lot about what I achieved and what I did not. I now a Urologist, who produces a podcast and running long distances, things I could never have imagined before.
Since writing is part of my DNA and one of the tools that I express myself in a more in-depth and more organized way, I wrote an article in English entitled “Finding my Voice” in which I tried to search for my voice. I explored all my decisions that I took in the past couple of years. And I came to a conclusion, that I was always searching for possibilities to change my surrounding to the better and for different means to express myself.
I remembered when I was at school, I programmed a simple “software” to help me in decision-making for the simple things that bothered me when I was a child, like going out of the house, spending time with friends, or traveling with my family. Help me choose between, going to the club, practice sports, or watch a movie? I searched on the Internet, and I found the HyperCard stack on archive.org. I was very happy with that surprise and wrote a post about it on Facebook.
As I continued to listen to podcasts and learned about the authors and their books, I asked myself, why shouldn’t I write a book? I already started many books projects before. However, I did not complete any of them.
I thought to write about the idea behind my decision-making program. Backed with my massive podcasts listening hours, book readings, academic background, and personal experience, it took me only three months to write the first book. During which I learned about the whole process of self-publishing, which included, of course, the writing itself, editing, designing the book from the inside, cover design, and later marketing. By new year I have released the In or Out in Kindle and paperback editions.
While the first book was being edited by the editor, I began to prepare the second book on running. My first plan was to collect my blog writings on running and publish them in a book after completing a full marathon. However, I passed through difficult events and extremely stressful experiences, and it was running that helped me pass through all of this. So, I wrote about what I felt while running before running a full marathon. By June, I published my second book titled “It’s Not Just About Running: Reflections on Life and Change in Egypt.”
The third book’s idea came to me while running, a model for analysis, problem-solving, and planning on the personal, organizational, and societal level, titled “Anchor System Thinking: The Art of Situational Analysis, Problem Solving, and Strategic Planning for Yourself, Your Organization, and Society.”
After finishing the third book, I discovered that the three books form a trilogy, the first about decision making, the second on post-decision reflection, and the third on the meaning of pillars on the personal, institutional and societal level. All books express my own experience and what I passed through.
Now, and after two years of ceding any political activism and later the publication of three books in English, I came to a conclusion. Yes, I wanted to try the self-publishing process through Amazon KDP and to have a wider readership exposure, as there are more English speakers than Arabic ones, in addition to the fact that they read more. However, I found that the most important reason for writing in English was to escape my real world. I wanted to create an imaginary bubble to live in, a new world, with a new language and descriptive words. Expanding the bubble with new areas of interest such as publishing, podcasting, running, and English writing.
My transition from writing in Arabic to writing in English was smooth and natural. After I stopped for a moment before writing or even thinking about writing the words “freedom, opinion, and change” the subject became easier when I ran and expressed myself and wrote, “running, freedom and change.” Even the running was my way to express my desire for freedom as noticed by one of my friends.
Last year was full of personal achievements, and yes, I published three books in Kindle and paperback editions, and one of them is audio format too. However such accomplishments were just a pressure outlet for a very stressful year. I pray for a more peaceful year and many books to come.
A. I. Shoukry
Bestselling Author of IN or OUT & It’s Not Just About Running & Anchor System Thinking http://bit.ly/2ThNRqW