I have a few quotes and poems printed on sheets of paper and taped to the wall of my study, where I can see them when I am working. I want to share them with you.

The first one is a quote by William Strunk Jr. from The Elements of Style:

        “Get off the beaten path and make a pathway of your own.”

The second quote is the first line of a couplet by Rumi from Kolliyat-e Shams Tabrizi (my own translation and interpretation):

        “I have made a pact with happiness that happiness be mine.”

Following Rumi’s ingenious self-assurance that happiness was with him and would not leave him, I began to investigate if I could also make such a deal with happiness. I needed to find some way to win in my fighting the battle of life. Life had become cumbersome and intolerable. I had lost my daughter, Marsha Mehran; I could no longer engage myself with my art profession and passion; I had began writing without being a writer. I was in the throes of the battle of life – a battle against all odds, inwards and outwards.

I chose one of the oddest and most uncommon writing approaches to deal with mourning and loss. Instead of writing a sorrowful memoir to express my anguish and grief, I started to write an inspiring, colourful novel to reflect my wishful imagination.

Instead of writing a novel about a gifted and successful writer who could not write because of writer’s block and died in agony, poverty, and loneliness, I  began to write a novel imagining a different ending for her, where she overcomes her creative struggles and continues to pursue her writing with joy and fulfilment.

To write this novel under the conditions I had been living and working in, I needed inspiration, encouragement, and support from family, friends, and editors. I also required inner strength, motivation, and a buffer against stress, disappointment, and mental fatigue.

        “Happiness”

Many years ago, I read Pulling Your Own Strings by Wayne Dyer and noted this quote:

        “There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.”

I don’t know who the real author of this phrase is; some believe it belongs to Buddha. Whoever said it tells me that the only way to happiness is to be happy.  I think this is not far from what Rumi had said.

Rumi was confident in his approach to happiness and sure of its merits and virtues when he told me that happiness would be mine if I made a pact with it. And I did. I don’t know how, but I did. The image of my smiling face has come to my rescue whenever I catch myself—frequently during the last few years—being paralysed with sad thoughts and anxious feelings.