A young artist trades her brush against a keyboard and types her first creative work against a English class homework. At 13, she publishes a short story on Wattpad, an online writing website that doubles as a digital library for self-published authors and a social media platform. As a high school student, she takes a creative writing course and writing a poetry book for a final project; at the end of his first year of college, she wrote a complete book. These elements emerge from the curriculum vitae of sophomore Layla Noor, who completed the first draft of her first novel. “Eclipsing Binary” last spring.
Like many other Gen Z members, Noor also grew up on a regular diet of novels for young adults and the homogeneous protagonists who dominated them. Changing the dominant narrative is one of Noor’s aspirations when writing.
“I was reading ‘Percy Jackson’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Twilight’ and all that stuff, but I never really felt… represented or seen through these stories. said Noor. “They’ve always talked about white, straight protagonists saving the world. “
Before writing his first novel, it took Noor a few tries to complete a full draft. Noor cited this consistency as the reason she slowly began to write longer prose.
“I think part of the reason I never finished any of these books and why my writing is so different from what it was before is because I grew up. [with those books]”Said Noor.” It wasn’t until I tried to write this book that I wrote Tufts last year. [that] I finally tried to write a story that really suited me, and I really started reading other books where I could see myself in fiction.
Noor’s novel, “Eclipse binary, ”Is the product of a persistent idea and a well-organized schedule.
“I was just starting college, trying to get all of my classes, and I kept coming back to this vision in my head of a girl watching another girl figure skating and just being fascinated by it, ”Noor said. “So I sat down and wrote the first chapter, and it turned into a book.”
As Noor describes it, it’s kind of like “Yuri on Ice “(2016) meets Sapphic romance.
“It’s a contemporary young adult romance about a girl, Elise, who loves art, but feels somehow lost during her freshman year of college and is overwhelmed by the expectations of everyone at her. respect”, Noor noted. “And that’s where she meets May, who is a black figure skating prodigy, who is sort of trying to move past the shadows of her past and redeem herself in the sport. It is a book about overcoming the traumas of the past, love as healing and a kind of self-discovery.
When she’s not writing, Noor studying towards a degree in engineering psychology and a minor in English. She has found an art to manage both, even if it means staying up late some nights.
“When I was writing the first draft of my book, the writing usually looked like this [would be] 10 p.m. and me [would be] done with all my homework, [and then I’d say] “Okay, it’s time to write” and I’ll be up until 2:00 am working on this book ” Noor noted. “But I think writing at night is pretty cool. I don’t mind trying to balance the two because I’m passionate about what I study, and I’m also passionate about writing.
Noor is active on Twitter and has amassed over 2,000 subscribers on his writing account. Social networks have played an important role during her writing career: on Wattpad, she won a Watty Award – the site’s only award, to outstanding works in several genres – at the age of 13. Since then, she has found a thriving community of other young authors, readers and role models who are leading the way as published writers.
“When I first joined Twitter I didn’t know what to expect because I had always been on the fandom side before; I had never been on the creative side of it ”, Noor noted. “So I think setting up a writing account was a big step for me, but I really don’t regret it because I was able to connect and follow so many people. “
Connections Noor was able to do is gratifying.
“Writing is such a lonely activity, because you are alone in your room with a laptop or a notebook, and you don’t really feel that in these moments, there is someone who is really with it. you ” Noor noted. “I think being able to go on social media and find a community of other writers and other people who understand… where you’re from and what you’re looking for, and who appreciate the value of writing, is truly amazing. “
With a completed manuscript, Noor takes the next step in the writing process.
“I’ve kind of been deep into the revisions, trying to tweak everything, because my next step after that is going to be to send the book to the literary agents,” Noor noted.
For Noor, writers like Zoe Hana Mikuta, Raquel Marie, and New York Times bestselling author Chloe Gong confirm that her goals are within reach.
“I [find it] really cool just to see other writers who are in the same places, and [to] seeing other young queer writers and authors of color find success this way, ”Noor said. “I really see them as people who inspire me and people who have shown me that it is possible.”
Noor also finds that being able to make room for STEM and the humanities to be a triumph of his Tufts experience.
“I grew up thinking the only viable thing I should be pursuing is STEM,” Noor noted. “And while I am pursuing STEM, I have also realized by going to Tufts, and also seeing these writers, that this doesn’t have to be the only thing I can pursue… I can have both.”
Noor’s mission statement as a writer is clear: she writes the books she didn’t have as a child.
“I write about characters who try not only to represent me, but other people as well, [and are] more intersectional and diverse [than] the books that I grew up reading ”, Noor noted. “I’ve read a lot of queer books, I’ve read a lot of Sapphic books, but often I’ve found that as a black queer person, black queer writer, there isn’t a lot of overlap between some of these areas. I read books with black protagonists, they won’t be weird enough. I read queer books, they will be about white characters, not necessarily black characters.
Noor prioritizes intersectionality in his own work.
“Writing has been a way for me to bridge all these aspects of my identity and to be able to explore myself in a way that I have sort of never seen in the world, or that I have not found myself – same ” Noor noted. “I try to write books that don’t exist yet.