We are profiling some faculty and alumni leading up to the 2018 Retreat. Adania Shibli will be a faculty member at our 2018 Retreat in April. She will be teaching two workshops, Writing with Paintings and Secondary Elements, which you can learn more about the workshops she will be teaching here.
Have you ever participated in a similar kind of retreat, either as faculty or as a participant? If yes, how did the experience benefit you and/or your writing?
In fact my work in academia, rather than the field of writing, has allowed the occurrence of such retreats. Participants in my courses and I would meet over the period of a few days. We would start by expressing urgent questions related to the process of writing, and which are of concern for each one of them. Then we try read texts that could further reflect on such questions. Alongside, we would go for walks to places of the participants’ or my choice. In that sense, these were retreats from the daily life of each of them, yet not from life itself. We try, as a matter of fact, to see the extension of their thoughts and questions in lived experiences that out of the way of their daily lives.
This results with creating shared fields of intimacy that in my view are an essential part of writing. Eventually it feels as if writing becomes alive; making such retreats a rare occasion to experience that by the participants and for me alike. This is as well what I most look forward to sharing with others in any such retreats.
Is there a particular piece of writing advice (or a writing exercise) you would like to share with our followers?
Never let a day pass without writing; to maintain writing as a daily practice; writing throughout the day, even if only a sentence every few hours. It is an advice that I try to give myself as well.
What and/or who do you find inspiring?
I find speaking less is very inspiring.
How has writing influenced your life?
Writing in my case had taught me how to live, and probably how to love.
What do you find to be your biggest challenge in your writing life?
The relation to language and words are most challenging and intriguing. One relation which is often encouraged is instrumental use: we use words to tell something. We get used to treat language in this way through speaking, where we are rarely allowed to babble, stammer or stutter. When we do so, we are ridiculed, mainly because we take language away from the single role forced on it to express things efficiently. Personally I find such instrumental use is reducing the potential of language, as instrumentalism reduces the potential of anything else. This said, I try in the process of writing to explore dimensions of language beyond that, something that is very difficult, after such dimensions have been repeatedly suppressed.
What are you working on currently?
I’m in anticipation of starting a new novel that might be written against the background of what I shared here.
Adania Shibli (Palestine, 1974) currently lives in Jerusalem and in Berlin. She has written novels, plays, short stories and narrative essays. She has twice been awarded with the Qattan Young Writer’s Award-Palestine in 2001 on her novel Masaas(translated into English as Touch. Northampton: Clockroot, 2009), and in 2003 on her novel Kulluna Ba’id bethat al Miqdar aan el-Hub (translated into English as We Are All Equally Far from Love. Northampton: Clockroot, 2012). She has also edited a Dispositions (Ramallah: Qattan, 2012), an art book about contemporary Palestinian artists. Her latest is the novel Tafsil Thanawi (Minor Detail, Beirut: Al-Adab, 2017). Shibli is also engaged in academic research and teaching. Since 2012 she has been a visiting professor at Birzeit University, Palestine.