When people ask me, “What do you want to write about?” I’m usually stumped.
If you ask me now, I have an answer.
I’m supposed to be unemployed right now. When I formally quit my job a couple weeks ago, my boss decided it was a better idea to put me on “leave of absence” for the next three weeks, just in case I change my mind and decide to come back. In her words, “You can have your job back whenever you want”.
For the past two weeks, the managers have been trying to convince me to stay. My work ethic has become legendary around here. The main boss in the entire city of Laredo even complimented the way I work, even offering me a raise. I think in order for the reader of this blog to understand the importance of this situation; I should reveal what I do for a living. Maybe next time.
For the next three weeks, I will decide if I want to keep my job or not. So why am I on “vacation”? I remember a quote I read from the prophet Muhammad that goes like this, “When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up.”
I wake up early for work, come back home at night, sleep very little hours, and repeat. Monday through Friday.
I read books. But I never ever write anymore. And it is killing me.
Let me reflect back to 2008.
I had turned 18 and made the move to California, with the goal of becoming a filmmaker by age 24. The plan was to start with writing movies and learn the craft that way. Money problems arose and I ended up sleeping on people’s floors. In one year, I moved to 6 different households. It got to the point that I was more concerned with avoiding homelessness than I was with my actual writing.
A year passed and the deadline to submit scripts for the Nicholl Fellowship competition was two weeks away. I used the next two weeks to write a 120-page script called “Geezers”. In brief, the story is a senior citizen’s Superbad. The script was edited only a few times and it was my first REAL completed script. Competitors weren’t gonna get the results until some months. And I couldn’t wait around anymore. My mission was a failure, so I moved back to Texas, and I haven’t lived in California since.
The fire in my stomach and my heart were telling me to keep writing. At the moment, I was obsessed with the Mexican drug cartel problem in border cities. I developed interest in moving there to see it all for myself. In the weirdest way, my dad called me to let me know that he wanted me to live in Nuevo Laredo (border town) and he had things for me to do there. Knowing how convenient it is to live there and do research on drug cartels for another script- I moved to Mexico.
A couple months later, I got the results. At age 19, I beat out like 5,400 scripts, but I didn’t advance to the finals. It hurt to lose, but I saw it coming. I was satisfied though. Knowing it was a hastily written comedy script, it confirmed (to me) that I’m not deluded with my writing skills. Also, I can indeed make it with better prepared material if I have the time.
So I moved back to Houston, knowing this time I can write without distractions, and there was comfort knowing that I can sleep comfortably on a bed. I was going to rewrite Geezers and make it into a better script, so I can be a successful young writer. But then something else happened: Depersonalization disorder.
To this day, I only have theories as to how it came about. Truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know why. And I don’t know why me. I can only guess.
It made me depressed. I thought I was going insane. It even showed in my work. I stubbornly tried to re-write a promising comedy script under the hypnotic spell of this disorder. And it showed in the results: Geezers was getting pulverized by other scripts at the Nicholl and the BlueCat competition. It was a damn shame, as Geezers remains my favorite script. The losses made me not want to write anymore, so I quit screenwriting altogether.
My world was getting darker and darker. Unemployed and feeling unreal most of the time, my prospects were depressingly low. I avoided leaving my house and avoided going to work. My disorder was eating me.
I’m a contradictory person. So if you are already aware of my battle with this disorder, forgive me if this blog contradicts my earlier blogs chronicling my experiences with depersonalization. My life is weird enough as it is.
I think it was a dream that told me to start reciting Islamic prayers. Slowly, my life was coming back together and I started writing again with satisfying results. I even managed to get a job in Laredo and started making serious money. I’ve beaten my disorder and I have to thank God for everything.
But when I was sleeping on floors in California and having very little to eat, I used my depressing situation to motivate me to write. When I moved to Laredo and started working, it was like I had everything, so there was no “fire” in me to write. As the months passed, my job just started getting boring and I realized I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. I don’t think I’m supposed to live a “traditional” life working a normal job for years.
I have stories I want to tell. This job, although thankful to have it, is just not what I need to send my message to the world.
As surprising as this is, I never attempted to write a book before. I have written this blog to promise myself that I’m going to write a novel now. The time has come. I have fantasized about this so many times for many years, but felt I wasn’t ready. Now I feel like I’m crazy enough to try it.
Unlike screenwriting, when it comes to writing a novel, you don’t have to follow a format. You can have any writing style you want. So I’m definitely going to have fun with this.
During my vacation, I will practice writing short stories in order to prepare for “the big one”. I already have an idea for the novel. An idea I had as a young child. And it’s inspired on a nightmare I had about Jesus.
I’m back to writing. The fire is back and it’s a great feeling, baby.