Faizan Aslam Soofi is a fourteen-year-old writer from Lahore, Pakistan. He has been writing for as long as he can remember. When he was seven, he started writing poems. The more he wrote, the more he explored and began experimenting with other forms of writing. “I used to start terrible, just absolutely terrible novels on notebooks and never finish them. I still keep them in a drawer of all my old writing and have a laugh reading them every now and then.” With the passage of time, he stopped writing poems completely and began to brainstorm and pen ambitious novels, but he never really finished anything until he was given a laptop and discovered, in his words, “the power of Microsoft Word.”
His debut novella, “Howl,” a dystopian work of fiction, was self-published in 2015, when he was just twelve. “I hate it now, and I think it’s complete rubbish,” Faizan stated, talking about Howl, “But I still don’t regret publishing it. It was an important milestone, and it taught me a lot.” He recalls going to the Lahore Literary Festival with ten copies of Howl to sell. “I was a terrified foetus, and my dad and my brother were with me, and I just sat and stacked my books on the table and waited.” Faizan was surprised that people actually came up to him and bought the book, and within twenty minutes, he’d sold all ten copies. “I made my first two thousand rupees that day and it felt like the start of this insane journey, it still blows my mind that people came forward and bought it.”
The following year he came out with a full-length fantasy novel entitled Instrumental Queens. The release of Instrumental Queens was celebrated with an event that gained attention and made it into newspapers. The book was praised by the guest speakers including Rhodes Scholar Mr. Irshadullah Khan, and a teacher of English Literature Mrs. Farhat Mujtaba, among others.
In an interview with The Friday Times, Faizan explained in detail his process of writing Instrumental Queens. “There is a process of improvisation as I write. It doesn’t necessarily go in a straight line.” To learn more, read the article here.
The young writer’s story was featured in multiple newspapers and online magazines in Pakistan. Pictured: Faizan signing books at the Instrumental Queens launch event.
The year after that saw the release of a collection of his short stories and plays, called Belle and Other Stories. The year after that, he came out with the sequel to Instrumental Queens, called Instrumental Kings. “That’s something I regret,” Faizan said, reflecting on the two books. “It was just that tipping point of adolescence where I was growing and learning insanely faster than I was writing, so I wasn’t satisfied with anything I wrote just days after I’d written it. Having four published books at fourteen may seem like a huge effort, but it shows in fact the opposite,” he said self-critically. “It shows how little effort went into the books individually.”
Demotivated and burnt out by it all, he didn’t write anything solid for another year. “That was abnormal for me, considering I used to write everyday. But I just couldn’t get myself to write. At all. My laptop crashed and I barely recovered my work for the third time.” He left the finale of the trilogy, Instrumental Gods incomplete, and decided the series was complete without it. “I abandoned another book I was halfway through the second draft of. It was super demotivating. I felt like a one-time wonder.”
But overtime, he found other forms of creativity to enjoy and be passionate about and express himself through, such as art and photography. And then, as he began to listen to music, song lyrics inspired him to go back to where he’d started: poetry. He is now working on a collection of poems. Though it is still in process, he shares updates and verses from his work on Instagram (@faizansoofi_).