A writer at heart

By Ayesha Anjum
Tue, 07, 24

In an interview with You! Nusrat shares how she shifted careers to pursue her passion for writing…

A writer at heart


Nusrat Osama Siddiqi, an educationist by profession with over 28 years of experience, but a writer at heart. In the hustle and bustle of this life, Nusrat finally began to do something that she had been itching to do from the very start. Her words, long shelved deep within, began to flow freely. “In Karachi, I served as Principal at a high school until retiring in 2010. Post-retirement, I pursued writing as a fulfilling hobby,” shares Nusrat.

Despite her unconventional audience, she touches lives through stories of belonging, values, and kindness, impacting children one at a time. In an interview with You! Nusrat shares how she shifted careers to pursue her passion for writing…

You! What inspired you to write?

Nusrat Osama: I’ve always had a passion for writing - it’s in my veins. I studied Journalism at Karachi University to hone my skills and fulfill my dream of becoming a recognised writer and author.

You! When did you begin writing?

NO: Finding myself with idle time, I stumbled upon a web magazine called Ideas Evolved at a nearby library. My first contribution, ‘A Bouncy Baby in a 60-year-old Me…’, was enthusiastically received by the young editors, opening the door to my writing journey. This led me to start my own blog, Baazgusht, where I shared my memoirs - Baazgusht meaning a voice that echoes in your mind.

You! What sets being a writer apart from your previous role?

NO: Once, I juggled roles as a mother, wife, and principal simultaneously, balancing numerous responsibilities. In our society, a working woman manages multiple fronts - home, children, in-laws, husband, and social obligations. Time for oneself is scarce.

Now retired and a grandmother, I’ve embraced a life free from imposed responsibilities. This newfound liberty allows me ample time to think, write, and indulge in writing to my heart’s content.

You! Did transitioning to a new career at an unconventional age present more challenges?

A writer at heart

NO: In an unconventional age, many writers start late. Despite life’s earlier demands, I refused to abandon my dream of seeing my name in print. With newfound time, I worked tirelessly to make it happen. Supportive family played a crucial role - from fixing laptop issues and proofreading to shaping the book’s final form. This role reversal is sweet: I once worked for their dreams, now they help me achieve mine.

You! What goes into writing children’s books?

NO: It depends on what type of book you are writing, but whatever you chose to write, you should provide accurate information for children. Use simple language, especially for young readers, and consider adding colourful illustrations to make the book more attractive.

You! What do you like most about your profession?

NO: I don’t view writing as a job; I do it freely and on my own terms. Writing comes to me naturally, like the inspiration for poetry.

You! What is your philosophy in life?

NO: Dreams and passions have no expiry date; if you have a dream, pursue it. When I wrote, I focused on honesty and passion, not the logistics of printing and publication. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from pursuing what you believe in, whether it’s learning to drive, starting anew in a different country, setting up a business, or changing careers. Give your aspirations a chance.

You! Tell us a random fact that would surprise us?

NO: Despite appearing tech-savvy with my use of mobile phones and laptops, the reality is quite the opposite. I often encounter minor issues and rely on my grandsons, aged 12 and 9, to help me out, which they gladly do.

You! Your favourite books?

NO: My favourite books and writers have evolved over time. I once loved Georgette Heyer, Daniel Steele, Dan Brown, Harold Robbins, Erle Stanley Gardner, and M.M. Kaye. I enjoy history books and have admired Fatima Bhutto’s ‘The Song of Blood and Swords’ and Khaled Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner.’ Elif Shafak’s ‘The Forty Rules of Love’ stayed on my bedside table for a long time.

You! Who are your cheerleaders?

NO: I believe my daughter and my two grandchildren are my greatest cheerleaders.

You! Who or what influenced your writing?

NO: My writing is inspired by everyday incidents, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. I weave stories from real-life happenings, often sparked by things children say or do.

You! What have you learnt about writing and publishing since you first started?

NO: Writing is a passion; publishing is a business. After many rejections from publishing houses, we chose self-publishing, requiring significant investment. The journey included securing bookstore shelf space, monitoring sales, and consistent marketing. I’m grateful my children, especially my daughter, managed the publishing and distribution, successfully placing the book in leading bookstores across Pakistan.

A writer at heart

You! Tell us a bit about your latest release?

NO: My latest release is a book of short stories set in a Pakistani environment, aiming to give children a sense of belonging beyond the typical Prince and Princess tales. I incorporated Urdu jargons and expressions to enhance this connection. Each story imparts a lesson, teaching manners, and they are ideal for bedtime, fostering bonding with children and grandchildren.

You! What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

NO: The biggest challenge was ensuring my stories were unique and not repetitive. Each needed simple language and originality. Most stories are set in schools, inspired by my teaching experiences and my children.

You! How long has it taken you to write your current book?

NO: I wrote stories and sent them to my daughter, Mehwesh, for approval. Some took days, others just hours. During my visit to Adelaide, I continued writing. Mehwesh then illustrated the stories. The entire process, from writing to market, took one year. For any information about the books and purchase links, you can contact my daughter, who manages the public blog TheOrdinarygirl1 and is responsive to all inquiries.

You! Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

NO: I see myself in all these characters; of a teacher, mother and Dadi. In fact, all the characters are inspired by people in my life - some that I met only once but left a lasting impact. I named the book ‘Hide and Seek’ because these people are concealed within these characters and stories.

You! What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?

NO: The main challenges include finding the right publisher, ensuring the book reaches its intended audience, and understanding book-buying habits to create appealing strategies. It’s a lonely journey without a strong social presence and connections, and it’s a slow process, delaying investment recovery.

You! What is your favourite part about being a writer?

NO: Your words live way longer than you do.

You! What book is currently on your nightstand?

NO: The Sealed Nectar.

You! If I give you a time machine, what time and in what place would you travel to?

NO: The best period of my life was when I was in college. We had the best of everything in life. I would love to go back to those lovely days back in my dad’s house in Karachi.

You! What is the recipe for a good story?

NO: Playing with children, listening to them talking to each other, sitting closely to a group of ladies gossiping, or sometimes a very simple statement or incident that goes to your heart is a recipe for a good story.

You! What is the most surprising thing you learnt about writing as an author?

NO: You can make a mountain out of a mole hill.

You! At this point in life, what can be your life’s theme song?

NO: Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) by Doris Day.

You! Define happiness in three words?

NO: Happiness is God-given.

You! What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

NO: Anyone who wants to become a writer should read, and read and read. You will develop a wonderful vocabulary, which is important. One should be sensitive and have an inner eye to see the world.