Tuesday, March 01, 2005

My Turn To Ask A Favour

At various times in the past, people reading my blog have suggested that I should try to publish in book form. One of those people was working in the industry and has given me some information on organising a book proposal. A prospective publisher would like to know who might be interested in buying my book, so to that end I would love it if some of you who read my blog would send me either a private email or write a comment to say a bit about who you are. (I have to admit to some curiosity myself actually.) Some of you have done that, but many post comments anonymously.You'll find my email address in my profile.

This project of writing about my life here is terrifying at one extreme and absolutely as exhilarating as a gallop in the desert at the other. I worked as a staff writer and editor for a few years on a monthly English-language magazine here in Cairo. It was really my first job as a writer and I was a bit amazed at how easy it was for me. I had a ball with The Egyptian Reporter, which is now unfortunately no longer publishing, as I had something new every month to explore and write about. I talked to scientists, rose breeders, horse breeders, biologists, businessmen and students about everything from bugs to gun control. When my husband died I was still working with them and in fact we'd started a children's magazine as well, but the demands of his life as taken up by me were too severe and I had to quit.

I stopped writing anything at all for about two years as I struggled through the morass that is Egyptian banking and business until one day I sat down and wrote a poem. It was quite naturally about grief and anger and dealing with a loss, but somehow it popped the cork on the bottle and the genie was out. For another year writing poetry kept me sane in endless board meetings where I was there only because I was the widow. Poetry let me open a window for a short look out and close it again when it got too scary or the psychic winds became too strong. Many of the things that I could write in that format, I don't know if I could ever write in prose. I discovered blogs in 2003, but it took a while for me to become comfortable with the form and habit of frequent posting. Now I'm something of an addict and my housework has been known to go to hell in a handbasket when I start writing.

Writing a book is going to be a new challenge. The blog helps me to remember what was going on in my life at various times, but I can't just publish the blog, so it is a total rewrite with a lot more organisation and information to sort out. Big job but I'm looking forward to it. And thank you for the emails in advance.


Anonymous said...

I think you should pursue this idea if you enjoy the actual work of writing. You have a very good voice, compassionate insights, and you select the telling detail. Your situation in life is unusual for an audience of US women, yet not un-imaginable. Readers will both identify with you and learn from you. Of course you would not have to write a "woman's book" - that would be your choice. Certainly you have a lot to tell men and women about living in and with another culture. I'm glad you asked us!

kenju said...

I only discovered your blog recently; but I am a fan of all things Egyptian, and I am certain to be interested if you were to write a book.

Virginia said...

I think a publication of your writing would have a varied audience:
-women who can identify with the struggles of major life changes
-students studying culture
-And anyone who appreciates good and inspirational writing. *grin*


Clara said...

I would be interested in reading your book. You come across in america as quite unique, but I'm postivie that your situation is not. Even before your late husband's unfortunate death.

Anyway, you said you wanted to know a little about the people who read your blog: I'm a 20 year old white american woman who likes to travel and learn aobut other cultures. I have been dating a guy from India for 5 years now, and while he isn't Muslim, I still find some of the things you have mentioned familiar, and also reassuring.

Maysa Abdel Aziz said...


I read your blog daily and I am actually disappointed when you do not wright every day, I am a 42 years old woman, with four children and like you, still trying to figure out what I would be when I grow up:) If you publish a book I would definately read it not only for the interesting subjects you wright about but also for your explicit way of writing. Good Luck. By the way I am the one who goes often to Basata, maybe I will see you there one day.

KaDa said...

As a regular reader of you blog, I would read the book. It is rare to see westerner's view of middle east, not someone who spent couple of month there on vacation, that details daily mundane (but interesting to the readers) happenings.

As for me, you can find out all you want in my blog kada9.blogspot.com

Johanna, Costa del Sol said...

Start writing your book Maryanne, just don't neglect your blogs ,we are daily looking forward to them.
Have dutch natonality, but lived so far in 10 different countries of which two were moslem, Oman, Libya.
Traveled to many different once and just back from (first visit) Egypt.

J-Birds said...

I think your writing style lends itself to an interesting book. Your challenge will be to choose a topic that will interest a large number of people. Most editors will tell you to write about what you know best. I can see you writing a book about the cultural challenges of a foreigner in Egypt. I can also see you writing a book about your husband's life and personality and weave the cultural differences into that. You could write a Mitchneresque novel about Egypt's early cultural history and how it's evolved and where it might head within the world community. Either way, good luck. - Craig

Anonymous said...

Leila at Dove's Eye View here.

I'm a 42 year old American mom, homeowner, who spends at least a thousand a year on books. I would certainly buy anything Marianne writes about Egypt. I lived there one year in the 80s and am hugely interested in her accounts of her daily life there. The story of her marriage and late husband is also fascinating. While I'm not an animal lover as she is, her writing about her animals is so compelling that I read it with pleasure.

Anybody with an interest in foreign travel and expatriate life would like Marianne's blog. Why couldn't she be the Egyptian Frances Mayes?

Anonymous said...

Leila with further thoughts:

Oprah would love this book and would love Marianne. (I watch very rarely but a little Oprah gives you the full picture)

Picture the biographical video they'd do: stills of Marianne as a young girl in Ojai, brief mentions of SF, Vancouver and Toronto, stills of Marianne and her husband. Obstacles along the way (gotta have those, the problems overcome, etc.)- then the move to Egypt, building the business. The big crisis: husband dies, company nearly collapses. Marianne's struggle to save the business. Her life with the horses today - the long distance equestrian thing is very cool. Woman alone in Egypt with kids and pets and friends. The video clips would show you in the desert with the horses, at home with your children and friends, going to one of those local weddings, and so forth.

Oprah would eat it up. (Marianne - you are aware of how important she is to book sales...)

I don't mean to trivialize - having this sort of "frame" may help shape the book.

It's extremely salable IMHO. Please write it, and get those publishers to talk to Oprah about it!

Safiyyah said...

I think what draws me is the very unique voice you have, a "Westerner" living as you are in Egypt. I enjoy reading about things I might never be able to do; likewise for people I might never be able to meet. I believe these encounters broadens my perspective of the world. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for such a belated comment to your blog. It'd be great if u can get your blogs published as a book. i came across your blog a few months ago and i really enjoyed reading your vivid descriptions and daily accounts of your life in Egypt! i don't read your blogs regularly due to my hectic schedule, but when i do, your blog really gives an eye-opener to what life's like on the other side of the planet. hee. (I'm a Singaporean tertiery student.)

Good luck and all the best! : )

Sylvester said...

Having spent over thirty five years living and working in the middle east,mainly in some of the gulf states and the bulk of my friends being mainly middle eastern (I'm a fluent Arabic speaker) I would definitely buy your book!
I am Franco/Dutch,based in the Netherlands,fifty two years old and still travel there with pleasure!

Anonymous said...

You have some good points about Egypt. Keep up the good work.