What I Learned From Publishing a 300-Page Novel at 17 Years Old

Hi! In case you haven’t read any of my other stories or don’t know who I am, my name is Rayaan Siddiqi and am a senior in high school from the greater Chicago Area who just published his first ever novel last week.

What is the Book About?

Being a senior who just finished his first semester of high school, I am 7/8 of the way through my high school career. My novel called The Switch Up is a realistic fiction book about a rising freshman’s journey throughout the world of high school and how he slowly starts to realize his passion for technology.

The main character’s name is Haris Ahmed, a thirteen-year-old kid who has seen the traditional version of success in his Pakistani household — that entailing from being a doctor to a lawyer. These thoughts led him to preselect his future before he even knew what his fate was about. Heading into high school, he fixates himself on wanting to be a lawyer, completely blocking out all other thoughts about a different future.

“I will finish four years here, take all honors classes, and go to a law school.”

It was that thought that led him to exclude all other avenues that existed in life. He found himself indulging in extracurriculars like the Debate team because he thought it was the thing he was supposed to do. However, although he starts having success in the world of debate, he quickly comes to learn about the disconnect he feels every day.

At the same time, he is learning more and more about the world of technology through the toss-up AP Computer Science Principles class he took. Coming into the class thinking he just took it as a placeholder in his schedule, Haris slowly yet surely starts to realize the potential of computer programming. Nevertheless, his freshman year elapses with his initial idea on this phenomenon of coding changing with the help of a teacher, yet he still chooses to stick with the idea of law being his future.

Heading into his sophomore year, Haris feels that disconnect growing between himself and the preset idea of becoming a lawyer, and starts realizing the amazing things he can do with coding. In a sense, he finds himself being able to express his creativity in ways he never knew were possible.

That very mindset leads to him spending time outside of class to learn about new coding languages like Swift and creating iOS apps, one of which he submits to a Google App Challenge. That decision ended up paying him dividends that couldn’t be represented with numeric values, leading him to a summer at Google’s Headquarters in Mountain View, California, propelling him to make The Switch Up and start focusing on the capabilities with tech.

These aspirations lead him to unimaginable experiences from learning about new frameworks to starting his own tech start-up, he finds himself strapped in for quite the ride.

Why Did I Write “The Switch Up”?

Being an avid reader throughout high school, I’ve found many professors, teachers, and people who write about their high school/educational experiences. However, I always felt as if there was a major disconnect that disallowed me to relate to their stories.

They went through those experiences decades ago!

Such was why I decided to take matters into my own hands and start writing a book in the early days of August 2020. Writing the novel from a third-person point of view, I got to include some of my personal life experiences and ambitions, transforming them into a fluent story.

What Did I Learn From Writing?

Although writing a book was something I never really considered in the past, I had this hunch of “doing something bigger and bolder,” which led me to find myself typing away, creating a story as I went along. Juggling college applications while writing a book was intense at times, however, that idea of creating a physical final product always kept me drawn in.

At the beginning of the writing process, I had a very vague idea of how the book would play out. In fact, I envisioned this book being a hundred pages long and not much more than that. However, as I started writing more and more, developing Haris’ character, I realized the story that I could tell in a relatable way which led me to write a nearly three-hundred-page novel.

Furthermore, I brushed up on a lot of my grammar/writing techniques. Although I’d written countless essays throughout high school, by writing this novel, I learned about many English fundamentals and had a great time.

Main Takeaway

If there was one thing I would want you to take away from my novel, it would be a simple yet powerful idea.

The standards of society do NOT need to dictate your future.

At the beginning of my high school journey, I found myself in a similar boat as many other freshmen: trying to join as many extracurriculars because “that’s what you had to do.”

Using that mentality, I realized that I was starting to do things because they were what I thought I was supposed to do. I slowly started to learn how being different was actually one of the best things that one can do. Instead of just being a participant in a club, I became motivated to create my own club, ranging from my own tech-programs being adopted throughout my local libraries to starting a sports talk show on YouTube.

Likewise, I’d recommend the same to you. Take risks. Be bold. Don’t let others define your future for you. Sometimes we find ourselves so focused on the future, we forget to live in the present, and through my novel, I try my very best to get that idea of “living in the moment” across.

Where can I Learn More/Read the Novel?

If you’d like to learn more about The Switch Up, you may visit my author website below and check out the Amazon link as well.

Additionally, if you’d like a digital copy, I’d love to send you an Ebook to spread the message.

My Author Website: https://author.rayaansiddiqi.com

The Switch Up Available on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/theswitchup

Conclusion

There we go! Never would I’ve thought that I’d be a published author, but looks like somethings just end up happening. I’d greatly appreciate any support and hope that you can connect to my story!

Thanks for reading my Medium Article! I hope you were able to check out The Switch Up! Stay tuned for more great articles regarding my experiences and other programming related topics. Don’t forget to follow me on Medium to stay updated!

Student, Programmer, Producer, Editor, Leader. Always learning! Website: rayaansiddiqi.com