Read and Write with Natasha

This Iraqi Kurdish doctor balances practicing medicine and writing novels

October 16, 2023 Natasha Tynes Episode 35
This Iraqi Kurdish doctor balances practicing medicine and writing novels
Read and Write with Natasha
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Read and Write with Natasha
This Iraqi Kurdish doctor balances practicing medicine and writing novels
Oct 16, 2023 Episode 35
Natasha Tynes

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Dr. Zaid Brifkani is an American physician of Iraqi-Kurdish descent. He specializes in dialysis and kidney transplantation with a lifelong passion for writing.

His debut novel, The Mountains We Carry, was released in November 2021. His latest novel, Waters Under Baghdad , was published in October 2023,

Growing up in Iraq, Brifkani witnessed many traumatic experiences of war, migration, and political turmoil, which have highlighted his dedication to writing about the negative impact of wars and political struggles.

In this episode,  Dr. Zaid Brifkani shares insights and lessons learned from his writing and publishing journey, along with his thoughts on maintaining a balance between professional life and writing and tips on how to maintain high productivity. 

Support the Show.

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➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Dr. Zaid Brifkani is an American physician of Iraqi-Kurdish descent. He specializes in dialysis and kidney transplantation with a lifelong passion for writing.

His debut novel, The Mountains We Carry, was released in November 2021. His latest novel, Waters Under Baghdad , was published in October 2023,

Growing up in Iraq, Brifkani witnessed many traumatic experiences of war, migration, and political turmoil, which have highlighted his dedication to writing about the negative impact of wars and political struggles.

In this episode,  Dr. Zaid Brifkani shares insights and lessons learned from his writing and publishing journey, along with his thoughts on maintaining a balance between professional life and writing and tips on how to maintain high productivity. 

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


Speaker 1:

If you have a weakness, for example for me, I tend to sometimes overlook my personal health, well-being or sleep, and I have learned to dedicate myself to more balanced eating, and that has really helped a lot. It doesn't have to be making drastic lifestyle changes, but paying attention to these small things. The third thing is family.

Speaker 2:

Hi friends, this is Read and Write with Natasha podcast. My name is Natasha Tynes and I'm an author and a journalist. In this channel I talk about the writing life, review books and interview authors. Hope you enjoy the journey. Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of Read and Write with Natasha. I have with me today Dr Zaid Brifkani, who's an American physician from Iraqi Kurdish descent. He specializes in dialysis and kidney transplantation, with a life-long passion for writing. His debut novel, the Mountains we Carry, was released in November 2021. He lives in Nashville with his wife and three children. His second novel I have here, waters Under Baghdad, is an exploration of Iraqi resilience and transformation offered for generations, and it will be released very soon. So, dr Zaid, welcome to my podcast, read and Write with Natasha. So happy to have you. As someone who is originally from the Middle East, I'm really excited about your book and excited to meet you. So, dr Zaid, my first question is can you tell us a bit about your second novel, waters Under Baghdad? What is it about?

Speaker 1:

Yes, sure. First, thank you for this opportunity and it's great meeting you during this podcast. So this novel is fiction, but it tells 100 years of modern Iraq history. So it starts from the beginning of the kingdom and then in 1921 all the way until 2021. And during this time, with all the political changes, all the socioeconomic changes, all the conflicts and wars, I wanted to tell that side of the history with a focus on the human side, to give a human side of the conflict, a human side of the war that often gets overlooked and I believe that when we understand that, we can understand better what the conflict happened. So it tells the story of a Baghdadi family and over multiple generations, with a first person is born named Faisal 1921 because he was born around the same time King Faisal was put in charge and then he has a son, and then a son has another son who he names Faisal after his father.

Speaker 1:

So there's a journey between the grandfather, faisal, and then the grandson, faisal, who lives in Baghdad and then goes through all these changes and difficulties and challenges during, especially during the time between the Gulf War in 1991 and also after the fall of Baghdad, 2003, and all these challenges, all these problems with the violence and sectarian divisions. So it tells a story. So it's two parallel stories in this novel. That and also there's another story because the story starts in the border between Poland and Belarus where there was that event that happened, or where a lot of Iraqi immigrants were stranded in the border between Poland and Belarus. So that's where Faisal the grandson meets an elderly Kurdish woman, from Iraq as well, who has lost her family during her time at the border with their immigrants and their refugees and during this time Faisal helps her reconnect with her family or research for her family. And then there's that story and there's also a reflection back on that hundred years of Faisal's family. So it's a two parallel stories but basically tells hundred years of Iraq, modern history.

Speaker 2:

Fascinating Any parts of the story inspired by real life events that you went through or your family went through.

Speaker 1:

Not really directly, but I lived in Iraq. I was 16 when we moved to the United States in 1996. So I remember a lot of the memories from the Iraq-Iran War and then during the invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent war, and so there's a lot of background information that I used in the novel based on our own experience and also, indirectly, family experiences. Specifically, one aspect that I wanted to really highlight in this novel is the military life of Iraqis in the last hundred years and how people don't fully understand outside Iraq, don't fully understand what military life meant to these families. And it's not just being drafted to go to the army. It's a lot of people that were born into military families and we have that experience too back home in my family with some distant and close family members who were born into military families and went on to study and be involved in the military. So there's also a human side of that as well. So it's not direct family experiences, but inspired by a lot of true events that happened around us at that time.

Speaker 2:

So what kind of research have you done for the novel, especially for going to the border? Did you go to the border? How was your research journey to come up with the novel?

Speaker 1:

So, besides my work in the medical field, I have a lot of interest in history, especially the, like I said, the human side of history and conflict and understanding conflict through the human eye and not just through the victorious side or the victim eye, it's just the human side of it, involved with everyone and for many years, going back to 1990s, I've always had a lot of interest in studying, learning more about history, especially in that area of the Middle East where so many civilizations have come and gone and so many conflicts and wars, and so I've always read about it. For this particular novel, I had to do almost four to six years of research learning about the Iraq history. When I say Iraq history, I mean all the civilizations that happened on this land that is now called Iraq and in the past has had different names and terminologies used, and that's one thing that I had to do a lot of research. And also in doing that research I had to learn about all the different sects and all the different religious groups and ideologies and things that are involved in the making of the mindset of an Iraqi citizen and therefore an Iraqi leader, an Iraqi president, like Iraqi official. So that was the research I did, and I had to be very careful about searching for just raw data history and not just people writing about history from one side and trying to give their own impression. I just wanted to know the events and that's my goal in writing my novel and even my first novel as well. It's just to tell the story as it happened and give people just an eye to see the events and then let them decide.

Speaker 1:

So that was one part of the research. The other part I had to do a lot of research on specific events that happened in Baghdad. See, I have never been to Baghdad. I grew up in Duhok, in the northern part in the Kurdistan region, so I've been to Mosul, but I have family members that live in Baghdad. So I had to do a lot of research. Baghdad carries a very special place in my heart and in the heart of every Iraqi, and so I had to do a lot of research. I had to ask specific information from friends, from family members that lived there, and also met some people who moved and became refugees, whether before 2003 or after 2003, and just kind of sit down and talk to them about certain events that happened.

Speaker 1:

That was one part of the research which was the most difficult one. The second part for the parallel story which happened at the border, I was able to connect directly with some people who were stranded there, like random people that like threw a WhatsApp and Viber. This was during the time that some people just randomly contacted me because they said we have heard that you've been advocate of refugee rights and you have had some writings about this, so they were seeking help. But I honestly, just I couldn't help them directly. But I helped them connect with certain journalism venues. But in that process I was able to learn some about it.

Speaker 1:

But it's a very heavy research involved. That was the most difficult part for me. Writing is the easiest part. You just sit down and write and write. But being able to be balanced about collecting your information and taking out all that bias from the understanding process and also from relaying information to the reader, that is a very, very important part of telling the story. So I can tell you I did a lot of research. You can say I could have done a PhD on it.

Speaker 2:

Which now begs the question you were a doctor by profession, so why did you like you're assuming you're very busy? You're a very renowned doctor. I researched your famous in your field. You know kidney transplants and all of that. Why do you want to make yourself even busy? And you have three kids to do this? Why do you want to bother with all of that? And you're a very busy doctor, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, writing, especially literature, has been my passion from childhood and I always. I remember during the summers when I was a teenager, I used to sometimes read a novel a day, Like I would just sit down and read a read until it's done, and we had friends that shared the same interest. And for my first novel, the Mountains we Carry, I had that idea that I put into outline and it was with me from when I was a teenager and we moved to the US and the only thing I because we were evacuated at night and the only thing I was able to bring with me is my outline that I could not leave behind, and so that passion for writing was with me all along. However, because of my busy time studying and with the training and fellowship and settling down, I was not able to start writing. But if you talk to my wife, he would tell you that it was always a stress in the back of my head that I had to do writing. I had to write, and for me writing is a way to decompress. That's like personally, that's how I. I really that.

Speaker 1:

You know my stress from work, from even during COVID, was a lot of stress and anxiety about what's happening, what's going to happen to the family, is my patients and everything. So I used to come home at night and just thought, instead of having this insomnia, just to write until three o'clock and fall asleep. That's one aspect of me like for the personal side. However, from the other side, I also consider this as a duty.

Speaker 1:

I come from a background that has witnessed a lot of changes and a lot of conflict, and I think that story needs to be told, needs to be told by someone who has had access to both sides of the world, from this side and the back home and to have the ability to to sit back and to write about it without, without emotions, to just write about it from a from a neutral side standpoint. I believe that my job, my profession in medicine has actually helped me with more creativity in connecting with people and connecting with the human side. So I definitely enjoy writing. I try to maintain a balance as much as possible. I'm, I'm, I'm blessed to have a family that is supportive and I'm you know I don't intend on stopping I I I just tried to multitask but, like I said, it's my way of of decompressing, so I really enjoy it.

Speaker 2:

So what's your writing routine? Like you mentioned, you you write at night, after you come back from, you know, from work, or, and do you write every day? How, like how is your writing routine, or do you have a routine, or like how, how?

Speaker 1:

yeah, I, I have thoughts that come to my mind all the time, so I could be driving and just pull over and write them down and some, or just I just dictate, dictate that particular thought, so I could be at a certain chapter and an idea for a scene or something comes to my mind. I may not be able to to do the actual writing, but I would just dictate it, like at a voice note, and then revisit it after that, or I, I, I cannot. I don't find forcing myself to go with a certain writing schedule to actually help me with creativity. When I sit down and force myself to do it, I usually almost always go back and either delete that chapter or redo it. I it's, it's a random thoughts that just come to my mind. So I could be just working and you know I have half an hour off. I just sit down and do 10, 10, 15 minutes of it.

Speaker 1:

Some, but the majority of it happens in times that are, I consider, to be more of their times, which is very difficult for me as a physician. So I usually have to do it after hours, especially at night. I just sit down after everybody's asleep and they just sit down and sometimes I, I forget about it. It's like three o'clock and I'm still writing. That's really the routine, but the the the part that is in terms of outline and research. I usually put a schedule for myself. But the writing itself I am, I can do the best. When it's it's just spontaneous, just yeah. But I try not to go a day If I, especially if I'm writing a project, I cannot go a day without being connected to that writing process, even if it's just reviewing a paragraph of a chapter or looking at some scenes or something. I have to because once you get disconnected it's hard to get back in the, in the world.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so your first novel. How did you publish it? Was it self publishing or did you go with an agent and a publisher? What? How was your process? Like the first one?

Speaker 1:

No, I just self published and it was my. It was my first experience. Honestly, I was not and I'm not. I mean, I'm in the medical field, I'm not in the media field or the journal journalism field, so it was really something new for me and I really felt like the story needed to be told. I didn't want to sit around and wait three, four more years until the manuscript is dissected. I felt like it's already. I already waited 10, 15 years, so I had to. I was very happy to see that I could do it as self-publishers through Amazon.

Speaker 1:

Now it was very challenging. I think it's one of the most challenging parts To me. What it is and it was still is the most challenging part of being an author is that part of the publishing and the marketing. To me, that was more challenging than the writing process itself, because I felt like and for my second novel it feels a little bit better because now you know things more. But I did it self-publish and I really just did everything on my own, developed some of these skills, reached out to some people who have done this before. That helped me with some tips, but it was really all. I just did everything on my own and tried to stay active and I was blessed that I had a good still have a good network back home in Iraq, especially in the Kurdistan part, and so my novel, the first novel, was translated to Arabic and to Kurdish.

Speaker 1:

So, that helped me with the process, and so we were able to publish it back home as well, and the Arabic translation is actually published by Dar al-Hikmah, which is out of London, london, and basically now right now in the real book festival there right now. So it's a challenging part, and for the second novel I intend to do the same thing, but it is. It's not easy, especially if you are somebody who's not in the journalistic field, so I hope you do so.

Speaker 2:

How did you market the book the first and the second? What were your marketing avenues and what worked and what didn't work for you? I mean the reason I asked, because from my podcast we'd like to help aspiring authors, so it'll be good to hear from your experience. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yes, absolutely. I think for me what worked the best is what I learned from mistakes, from the first novel and what they were In terms of marketing.

Speaker 1:

So the mistakes were rushing. I felt like as soon as my novel was ready to be published and it was edited and I had it professionally edited and like, sectored, like really with the professional editor, and I felt like immediately after that I had this urge to just publish it right away, like it had to happen now, and I feel like that was one mistake that I made that I avoided this time because you could build up interest and awareness of the book between the time it's ready and done editing to when it's published and actually, like I just didn't have any advice, anybody to tell me that you need to wait. So that part is very important. If you have to wait another three months or six months to do outreach, to send it, so send the actual finalized manuscript to people who may be interested in reading it and reviewing it, not just the preliminary manuscript, which is what I did for the first novel, because I was like, okay, well, let me send it and as soon as it was done, it's done. But this one and maybe for the first one, I was a little bit anxious about what the impression would be, because I was not sure if it was going to be good enough or not. I was interested in sending the very preliminary manuscript, or even some of the detailed outline, to people to read it. So by the time it was back and forth, back and forth, by the time the final manuscript was done, a lot of these people who reviewed it initially kind of already knew the story. So for them it was not as easy to evaluate the all the changes and the terms and the shifts in the narrative and in the manuscript. So I think that's one thing I would definitely advise against doing, which is rushing to the publication. To me that's the most important and valuable time. It's between the manuscript finish and then the actual publication.

Speaker 1:

Now, in terms of marketing, I think to me the most important piece of marketing is to have your own network, to have your own niche, like who are the people who would be interested in reading it? And that is where the tricky part comes into play. So if you are only depending on people from your own background, this may backfire, because if you say, okay, I'm writing a story about the Kurdish people, kurdish history and the Kurds are going to be interested in it, but the reality is you're trying to tell a story to other people as well, so the non-Kurds, the non-Iraiki, for example, the non-Iraiki Arabs and people from outside the Middle East. So if you don't have that broadened network, then you're going to be very limited to certain feedback. Even the feedback might be biased. People might be just supporting you and just saying that what nice stuff do you have to open the?

Speaker 1:

So I tried to reach out to other circles Like, for example, I participated in the Southern Book of Festival of Books in Nashville last year, which is a very it's a big festival. That was a very good experience for me because I was able to go and try to look for all opportunities to get feedback from people from outside my existing network. So that's kind of outreach has helped me and using social media has really helped. Even within my own work circle people Just because somebody's a doctor and doesn't mean they don't have interest in fiction. So you just can never go wrong by trying to reach out to people and go into libraries. I offered a book to multiple libraries the public schools in Nashville that had a large population of Middle Eastern students. They were interested. So you just have to knock on all the doors, especially if it's your first published book. But marketing is not easy.

Speaker 2:

You have to, I know. So you think, when it comes to social media, which channel exactly worked for you?

Speaker 1:

For me, it depends on where the network followers are from. So, for example, for me, I'm very active on Facebook, active on Instagram, twitter, and I've been more active on Facebook than the other platforms because of At the time to build that foundation. However, I noticed majority of my Facebook network is from back home, so I have to cater a lot of my marketing towards that. Majority of my followers on Instagram are English speaking audience and the majority of my Twitter followers are Arabic speaking. So I have to. It just depends when I what you post, what you publish and what you.

Speaker 1:

I usually try to put post in all three languages English, arabic and Kurdish and that usually works. But you really have to be able to target your audience on the media platform that you have, you know you have to know who your audience are and a lot of people follow to this mistake where they, you know, have ways of getting a lot of followers in. They're just like just volume and just numbers, but that's not quality. So, but yeah, I think overall, I think for me, instagram has been, has been, the most the best way of reaching out to new readers Instagram.

Speaker 2:

Do you ever publish books in Arabic or Kurdish or only English for now?

Speaker 1:

Well, I can, I can, I'm very so. I mean my it. Kurdish is my native language, but we grew up in in rock study in Arabic, so all our learning in school was in Arabic and I'm very, very much interested in in Arabic literature, even have experiences in writing poetry in Arabic. So I'm I'm very much interested in that. So I have, I could, I could write a novel in Arabic and have as much success as English with no problem, like I'm very strong in the writing part.

Speaker 1:

What I did was I thought that the immediate message needed to reach the English speaking audience before anyone else and that's why I felt more comfortable doing the English and then translated to Arabic. But I have had, I have had experiences, or, you know, trying to do in in Arabic as well. I don't have any problem with that, even whether it's a novel, or even I've had some my own trials with the Arabic poetry, which I expect I really consider the most beautiful piece of art in the world. Like, when it comes to Arabic poetry, kurdish I am. I am strong because we it's in my native language. But in terms of writing, it's a little bit more difficult for me just because of the of the specific academic, you know, writing process, which we grew up learning more of it in Arabic, but I prefer English because I feel it's a more universal language right now. The more effective outreach.

Speaker 2:

Hmm, so what is your next project now? Or you haven't thought about it After this?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, no, I trust me. I I already thought about my next two projects and it's so. It's so hard to get it out of my head but I, believe it or not, I have. I really want to circle around in Iraq on the important and this might be a very this might be. You might be the first person that I have shared this, my next project with, but what I really want to do in my, in my next project after Waters under back, that is to is to write about Mosul. To write about. So we started with the, with the Hawk, with the North. They went to back that and now circle around and come back to Mosul.

Speaker 1:

But what I want to do in this one, I want to make it a little bit more unique. I want to have English speaking character from the US as one of the main characters and also so, without giving out a lot of details, but I want to talk about life under in Mosul under before and during and now after ISIS attacks. That's very important because my, my mother, is from Mosul, so I grew up going to Mosul every summer, spending a lot of time there. We had a lot of family. Mosul is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It's amazing. And if you have, if you have not been to Mosul in the past, you would not be able to appreciate the amount of damage not just physical but emotional damage that has happened to Mosul after, during ISIS. So that's one thing I want to, you know, focus on, but with that particular one. That third project I'm going to highlight because of my work, professional work as a transplant, the nephrologist. I want to talk about organ trafficking and exploitation in refugee camps.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, during war, Does that actually happen? Does that actually?

Speaker 1:

happen.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 1:

I'm not talking specifically about certain areas, but it happens in the world A lot, a lot more than people realize. It's a very, very, it's a very big problem that it's not talked about.

Speaker 2:

So you go for like a regular procedure and then they steal your kidney and they don't know where with it and you don't know. I mean, I saw that in movies but I'm not sure if it actually happened.

Speaker 1:

Well, not just that. I mean they basically have thousands of kids that are that have no families after war and they are in refugee camps, or they are just stranded in the middle of nowhere, or they are kidnapped during war and they just take their organs and just throw them out on the street. I mean it happens every day. It happens every day.

Speaker 1:

People are found dead on the street, yeah, and or they just are exploited, forced into difficult situations where they have to sell their organs for a very, very cheap price or just for the price of staying alive. I mean, that's one thing in my second novel where the character considered selling his kidney just to get out of your eye. That is a different. That is one challenge that people, that's a decision that people make. It's a sad reality. But the other reality is that even in places where people feel they are being protected by organizations, they end up getting exploited, and that's a lot more, you know, common than people realize. It's a bigger problem than people realize, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I want to bring awareness to that Interesting Cause. Some people like joke about it, like, oh, what do you want me to do? Sell my kidney, you know, like they became part of, like the you know the language, yeah, and it's a very sad process. It's a very sad process. So who's your idol? There's a number of doctor authors, you know. I think Khaled Hussaini was a dentist, I think. Who wrote you know Khaled Hussaini.

Speaker 1:

He's a family, family practitioner.

Speaker 2:

And then there is the. I just finished the book Cutting for Stone. He's, I think, an Indian author who is a famous doctor. Let me yeah, his name is Abraham Virgesi, or Virgesi.

Speaker 1:

Oh, yes, yes, I am yeah.

Speaker 2:

So these are like. Are they so? These are your idols? Which is the doctor, writers are, and so who is your favorite author? Now you know, after I mentioned them, yeah, in terms of idol.

Speaker 1:

I wouldn't say idol, I would say people that have given, have opened the door for more physicians to write, because it's a very difficult thing to, and a lot of these doctors like Khaled Hussaini I mean, once is after his first novel, I think he just stopped practicing medicine because he had to dedicate himself to. So it's a for me, for me and idol. There are multiple. There's a lot of physicians out there or in the medical field that write and still try to balance the writing with the professional life. And Khaled Hussaini is one of the my favorite authors in terms of how amazing he is in describing, in description and details like specific details. But for me, my favorite novelist is John Grisham in terms of as a novelist.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, his, yeah, the plot and although I consider his novels lately to kind of be more of a repetitive theme, but he is my favorite novelist now. But we're growing up in the Arabic world. You know there's multiple other authors. You know they have Taah Hussaini, have Najib Mahfoudisar, you know big ones that you come to mind.

Speaker 1:

But for me, I think any author who is able to create a balance between their professional life and the writing world is somebody I have a lot of respect for and admiration, because it's very, very difficult to be able to create a balance between the two, because people have this stereotype of writers and that they are like weird people, they just in a corner and they cannot connect with anyone.

Speaker 1:

And the more, the more published you are, the more isolated to get. But I think that's that's, that's just a stereotype that needs to be broken. If you're successful, you have to be able to to connect with people, and connecting with people is basically being able to to be accessible to them. And you may not be the most social person, that's just personality but being able to connect to the thoughts and feelings of other people, I think that is that is one of the biggest factors of being a successful author, not just successful in in selling books, but also successful in getting the idea across, because the whole point is getting the idea across, not just entertainment, but an idea, especially when it comes to the human side, telling a story. And if you can get a story across to one person, then you have made a difference.

Speaker 2:

So would you like if you become like the next Khaled Hussain. You know, would you ever consider quitting being a doctor and being a full-time author? I know it's really hard to raise a family on writing books yeah but would you ever consider that I'm already?

Speaker 1:

I am already not your typical or traditional physician, to the speak. I've always had this idea of, of not just being involved in the in the, just a clinical practice of seeing patients face-to-face. I also like the leadership part, the management part, which I'm already doing and I have had, you know, experiences. Besides my kidney clinic, which I founded, I'm also the co-founder of another healthcare startup company, which we will announce soon, and that is that works with improving outcomes for patients, clinical outcomes. So for me, I don't think I would get to a point where I have to make that decision if I continue on this route, but for me I will never have. I will never let anything go above writing. That's, that's inspiring it reminds me.

Speaker 2:

It reminds me of myself. I think I'm a bit older than you, but yeah, I mean, I feel the same. And so you, you're very busy and you're very accomplished and you're doing a lot. How do you keep that level of energy? I mean, if you're gonna talk about the scientific part, how do you maintain this high level of energy? How can you be that productive? Do you like exercise regularly? Do you sleep regularly? Eat certain food? What is the tips that you give for someone to be as productive as you and manage to write books, have clinics, startups, raise kids? Yeah, what are you doing?

Speaker 1:

I think learning to be to multitask is very important. Learning a multi-task, that's one. Also, people focus too much on their strengths, but they forget about the weaknesses. I think if you invest more in in working around your shortcomings or weaknesses, you can become stronger. So if, if you have a weakness for example for me, I tend to sometimes overlook my personal health, well-being or sleep, and I have learned to to dedicate myself to more balanced eating, and that has really helped a lot it doesn't have to be making drastic lifestyle changes, but paying attention to these small things.

Speaker 1:

The second, the third thing, is family. For me, family is not just having to spend time with the family. It's an inspiration and you know so investing in your family is. It's an investment that always pays off. But for me, honestly, I would say, the most important thing for me that has helped me in my life is recognizing who, the type of people to surround yourself with, and I've realized that if you surround yourself with people who are going to challenge you directly and indirectly, they don't have to be very established people, they just have to be people that are not going to help you. Just settle with with whatever you know. People are always gonna tell you that you can do. You can do even more. That has really helped me because it makes me never feel too comfortable. Because once you get too comfortable, that's when you start taking steps backward. And the last thing for me.

Speaker 1:

In my professional life, in my medical field, I have surrounded myself with people that share my style of work. So I am very I'm very particular and anal about my work. I'm very specific how, who, who I work with. So the people I surround myself with, they are, they have similar vision and I am able to invest time and energy training them, but then in return, they they make me feel more comfortable when I'm not around. So it's just, it's just a balance. But honestly, focusing more on working around your weaknesses, it's the most important thing you can do to push yourself forward.

Speaker 1:

Whether it's not not having healthy, you know diet or lifestyle, then you have to invest into that. If you have a problem with time management, I had an issue with with time management at some point where I was very tired from work, so I would just sit in. I was exhausted, I would just sit and watch a lot of TV and football and sports, but you just have to work around it. So if you think that's a problem, then you. Then I had to work on why do I feel tired, and I had to do the research, and with my wife's help she is much into functional medicine stuff. Then I realized that a certain foods don't work too well with me and make me feel very exhausted and almost lethargic sometimes.

Speaker 2:

So you just try to avoid them because it's an investment your life and it's every minute wasted, you know if you don't like sugar sugar I think yes, the spikes in energy up and down. That for me, like I notice it you know alcohol, coffee, all that stuff.

Speaker 2:

It's really for me, what helped me as a writer you'd be surprised is exercise. I'm not a doctor, you know, but exercising because I have the endorphins, they stay with me all day long and I feel it. The days I don't exercise, I can hardly do anything. I can't, I cannot think, I cannot. So that that's for me. What was in a variation. How endorphins, can you know? The natural hormones can actually really change your life. So but any any final thoughts, dr Zaid, on you know any tips for anyone who wants to do this? You know you're obviously very passionate about writing, and what would you advise someone who wants, who also, also, you know they have another profession, they have a family. What would you advise them to do? But they're always saying I don't have time, you know whatever, what would you be your advice?

Speaker 1:

yeah, yes, well, I have three pieces of advice. Number one there's never a perfect time to write. If you, if you wait for the perfect time, it will never happen that. So that is not gonna. You have to just jump, you have to just start. That's one. Number two you have to find people around you who are who, who, who believe in your passion.

Speaker 1:

I don't have to be pushing you, but believe in your passion. So for me, for example, my family, they, they know, even in the times when I may have doubted my work, sometimes they believed in me and during times of weakness. So that's very important because you, every writer, every author, is gonna hit a very rock bottom point in during the project or career and you need somebody to to help you see the other side, the the last piece of advice I have is have a purpose for writing. If you have a purpose for writing, it will help you look at the time you spent as an investment and not as an unknown time being sent when you have a purpose in into your writing. Purpose could be even just like entertaining people, but having a purpose, when you have a purpose, you will always look for ways to connect with people. So there's, you know, find, find what, what inspires you in life, and sticks with it. And I don't think people can tell you who you are, only you can tell yourself who you are.

Speaker 1:

But but I just had to wait. One time, I just said in the middle of COVID, when it was the craziest time to start, I just sat in my office right here I was I think it was like 1 30 at night and two and I just sat down I said you know what? The heck with it? I'm just starting, I just started, I've started and all of a sudden it's like six o'clock and I had two chapters and the first chapter is the hardest, when I would have rather had all my teeth pulled out, and not this is the first. It was so difficult, but you just have to go. I mean, there's a lot of people who are very passionate and very skilled, but they just have to believe in themselves.

Speaker 2:

So let's do it yeah, jump and do it. So what can people find? Your book Waters and the Baghdad on Amazon bookstores, your website how can people reach out to you if they want to reach out to you?

Speaker 1:

yes, so my book will be available on all Amazon markets online. It will be released October 10th and we will have the link to this episode and then it will be available in, you know, hardcover and just a regular, like all three versions, and then I'm working on some avenues to have it available at some of the major bookstores as well. But that's initially. That's gonna be the majority you can also visit. My page is a brief, coming, calm and where you'll have fine information about both my first novel and the second novel as well. On my website you you'll be able to also connect with me if there's any inquiries about communication or any questions on all my social media accounts on Facebook, instagram, linkedin, you know, twitter always open to connecting and communicating. So this.

Speaker 2:

this been fascinating, dr Zaid, and you know we'll definitely look forward to staying in touch and best of luck with with everything and with your third secret project that I'm the only one who knows yeah, well communicate, well communicate for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I have a scoop now so that's good yeah yeah, thank you, appreciate the opportunity of course, for anyone who's listening or watching. Thank you for staying with us and until we meet again, thank you for tuning in to read and write with Natasha. I'm your host, natasha Times. If today's episode inspired you in any way, please take the time to review the podcast. Remember to subscribe and share this podcast with fellow book lovers. Until next time, happy reading, happy writing.

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