I started out writing novels that were based on true stories, but later in life, I began to write and publish poetry. I then became a journalist for several local newspapers and little by little, I moved toward nonfiction, particularly memoir.
In 2011, I came across Writing Spirit, a book by bestselling author and mystic Lynn Andrews. The book really moved me so I called the author for some literary advice, not imagining that I’d end up in a 4-year shamanic school. This journey changed my life as a wife, mother and as a writer. I began a 4-book memoir series about my experience. Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School (Book 1) was published earlier this year. Book 2 will be released later in July 2016.
Originally, all I wanted to do was write books. My design changed one day in the mid-1990s when I realized the extent of stereotyping that exists in the West regarding the Middle East in general and the women of that region in particular.
I was on transit at Heathrow Airport when I entered a bookstore and saw a rack of novels about Middle Eastern women written by western authors. Each front cover showed a veiled woman in distress and on the back, a synopsis told of her attempts to flee from an abusive husband, father or brother. I was disturbed that that was the only type of lifestyle displayed for the public, since I didn’t personally know a woman, not in America or the Middle East, who lived under such circumstances – although I realized they did exist everywhere.
When I returned to America, I searched for books, articles and movies that depicted stories with either influential or simply everyday Middle Easterners, stories that portrayed the healthier or more realistic part of the Arab world. There were hardly any out there, especially not when it came to the women. From that point on I was determined to write nothing but true life stories and reports of the people and culture from that region.
As a wife, mother, and caregiver, I rarely cook, exercise, clean the house, go to the movies, or out to a nice dinner on a whim. When it comes to getting important tasks done, which includes my writing, I set a schedule and plan accordingly. Otherwise, my family would starve, the house would constantly be a mess, and the book would never see the words “The End.”
Books are not written overnight. Oftentimes, they simmer inside of the writer for years before they are poured onto paper (or computer screen). Getting a book from A to Z requires much discipline, time, and patience, but what doesn’t? Most professions, including that of parenthood, require this type of commitment patience.
Weam Namou is an Iraqi American author, journalist, and filmmaker. She is the award-winning author of nine books and the co-founder and president of IAA (Iraqi Artists Association). She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Wayne State University, studied novel and memoir writing through various correspondence courses, poetry in Prague through the University of New Orleans’ summer program, and screenwriting at the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan. Her writings have appeared in national and international journals and she has given lectures, workshops and poetry readings at numerous cultural and educational institutions. In 2012, she won a lifetime achievement award from Erootha, a nonprofit arts organization.