On Friday, May 29, Zaina Arafat hosted a delightful installment of our Friday Night Salon Series! Our Friday Night Salons—now open to the public—are a space for our community to learn from and write with some incredible authors, poets, journalists, and novelists. The Girls Write Now Friday Night Salon Series is an extension of our Writing Works Program.
Write about a place that has special meaning for you, without specifying what that place is. It can be as broad as Paris or as narrow as the kitchen table at your mother’s house. In writing about it, try and show why that place is special to you.
Describe a time when you felt like a fish out of water. Maybe you were the only female-identifying player on an all male-identifying sports team, the only English speaker in the room, the new kid in class. Write a scene that shows us what that felt like. Was it initially unpleasant or difficult, but then became easier? Were you able to find your way into the pool while still being true to yourself?
Continue this prompt: “I am both…” In doing so, think of a contradiction that exists within you (I am both extroverted and introverted, I am both messy and clean, I am both American and Arab), and show us how you embody that contradiction, what being “both” looks like for you.
Zaina Arafat is a Palestinian-American writer and the author of the novel, You Exist Too Much, an Indie Next Pick for June. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including Granta, The New York Times, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, VICE, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic and NPR. She holds an MA in international affairs from Columbia University and an MFA from the University of Iowa and is a recipient of the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts. She grew up between the United States and the Middle East and currently lives in Brooklyn.