About Me

I started my writing journey as a blogger (back when blogs were popular!) and now I write mostly short stories. My fiction has appeared in various literary magazines (see Publications) and has been longlisted for the 2019 Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. I work as an editor at Ruqaya’s Bookshelf and teach online at the Sarah Selecky Writing School. I’m currently working on a short story collection, with support from the Ontario Arts Council.

My favourite writing quote is by Ira Glass (below). His words are what kept me going when I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, when I felt hopeless that my work would never be as good as my ambitions.

As for the unofficial stuff, I love painting with my two young boys (minus the cleanup), and going on long solitary walks. I always carry a notebook with me. I’ve written on park benches while my kids make piles out of fallen leaves. I’ve written in the car at night with only fleeting strips of light landing on the page. I’ve written on the kitchen counter, distracted and annoyed at the ketchup that someone forgot to put back into the fridge. I’m always writing in my head.

Hajera Khaja in a white headscarf and blue winter jacket looking off to the side. Blurred in the background are snow and bare trees.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

— Ira Glass