How I went from being a novelist to a writer on ‘Quantico’

Forget the “hero’s journey.” It’s the writer’s journeys that mean something more – and more magical – to other writers like us:

writersjourneyby Sharbari Zohra Ahmed

irginia Woolf was right: a writer needs an airy room of her own to create and dream. Alas, this room can also become an emotional crawl space in which to hide.

As a writer I have been alone with my stories for a long time. Sometimes it was terrifying because I was starting to wonder if I was going to be alone with these stories forever. However, recently the room started to get comfortable and womb-like.

I was working on a sprawling novel, I had an agent but was going into that illusory place that many writers start creeping towards: the place where you convince yourself that it’s ok if no one ever reads your work because you’re writing for the sake of writing. This is a place fraught with complacency and the peril of creative necrosis.


I lived in this room, with this novel, for ten years and then one day I got a message from my friend, the actress Purva Bedi, telling me that there was a new TV show, a major one, with a South Asian female protagonist, megastar Priyanka Chopra, and the producers were looking for a South Asian American female writer to round out the writing team.

I saw the message and for a moment, my heart surged with the possibilities. And then I remembered, oh right: I suck and have no experience writing for TV, let alone for a major American network. Purva asked if she should give the Executive Producer Jake Coburn my name. I said, sure, why not? I did not think I had a rat’s chance in hell.

It was such a specific category they were seeking to fill. I am not impressive on paper – well, as impressive as other South Asian American female writers who have published or been in the public eye. No fellowships or grants. So, I reclined back into my comfort zone and promptly forgot about the show.

Then one day, Purva texts me: get ready. Jake is going to call you….

Read it all at Scroll