I did not anticipate the overwhelming responses and praises that followed the flash fiction I posted on my Facebook wall while at work. In a matter of minutes, likes were flying, comments poured in tens, and several friends shared the post. The funny thing about that was I had beforehand said to myself that I will never post short stories on Facebook, but in a moment of elation, I had written about a man who remembered his ex-Christian girlfriend, and broke my words. The post would go further, as friends later told me, and inspired them to pick up their pens and begin writing fictions. Muslim fiction, to be precise.
In the ensuing days, Khadija Tijanni, a medical doctor and a writer on marriage and sexuality, told me via comment that she was sharpening her pen. And not long after that, she began a sensational fiction series titled ‘Uncovered’ attracting hundreds of views. Another doctor who is an avid reader of fiction and was Haven of Stories 2016 Reader of the year, Temitope Lawal, wrote a beautiful two parts flash fiction, and her readers demanded for more. A Muslim sister, Zouerat Adekunle after a week began yet another fine series – A Blessing or A Lesson, and people constantly demanded for following episodes. Before all of these new series, Ahmad Holderness, a medical doctor and poet, had already established himself as a dramatic fiction writer, with his series earlier this year. And I remember discussing with him via message about issues regarding the new, blooming genre – Muslim fiction.
It is pleasant and beautiful to see such an explosion of storytelling which brings faith to its fore. It is also humbling to know that – praise be to God – one’s voice is among this emerging wave. I applaud all the people who have taken up their pens, and are in fact showing that everyone is unique, and that everyone has a story to tell. It is refreshing to see that despite the grim reality of recession in Nigeria and appalling state of the Muslim communities – infighting among believers, sectarianism, marital problems, campus-issues and saddening effects of rigid understanding of the religion – people are using Facebook to share their creativity and stories. Even if fictional.
However, I would like to caution that this – Facebook fiction series – should be a stepping stone, and not a norm. Facebook posts are fleeting, and the likes and comments can become misleading, even, addictive (whereby we sing to the choir.) So please write, and you may post for a tiny bit, but keep the bulk in Word-Document. There, write and rewrite. Structure the plots. Reflect on the themes. Bring life to the characters. Employ literary devices. Send it to an editor. Consult writer friends on it. Make it worthy of reading. Then what?
Well, if your friends that continuously tell you they want more are being honest, if they really want to read Muslim fiction, then let them buy it.