Well, I told myself, if a medical doctor could write The Kite Runner, then surely you could write a novel as well. After all, weren’t lawyers trained to write? I knew I had the seed for a story, but that was all. I decided that I would completely fictionalize the story. I chose to write about a boy that was born in 1948 and grew up under Israeli military rule which had similar laws to the ones used in the occupied territories today.
In my first draft, I wrote about how the Palestinian boy, Ichmad, helped a refugee bury arms and his father insisted on paying the price. His only request was that Ichmad forget about politics and make something out of his life. I then wrote about how an Israeli professor recognized Ichmad’s ability and together they achieved something great. And, of course, Ichmad falls for the most perfect Jewish American human rights activist on the planet.
I wrote it in essay form. No dialogue. No hooks. No cliff hangers. No rise and fall of tension. Completely flat characters. I knew I needed help. I rarely ever read fiction and had no idea how to turn this into a story. I began to take courses at Writers’ Digest online. Two years and twenty-one courses later, my novel was still in rough shape.