The difference between an amateur and a professional is a matter of detachment. I have worked under stressful conditions for a good part of my life. I had to report to jerks, crooks, and penny-pinchers who literally lived off the cheap labor of others. I maintained my reserved demeanor until one day, and before solidly securing an ironclad alternative, I resigned. Even in quitting I did everything in my power to be graceful and courteous. My insistence on being a professional stemmed from my interest in preserving the way I perceive myself rather than how others judge me. I respect my untarnished legacy. I know that the biggest of them all, the smartest, the richest, and the most accomplished stands as tall as my shoulders in stature but no more.

I started rebuilding my freelance career. I talked to old contacts and sought short-term contracts. I got the wheels turning again, albeit slowly. At long last I had more time to pursue my own path. I pulled the shades open, sat by my window and began to write. Shortly afterward, my country caught fire.

I always, in my heart of hearts, knew that this is going to happen. In all honesty though, I very much doubted that I would be fortunate enough to experience it in my lifetime. It’s a milestone wrought with tragedy, savagery, mayhem and stupendous loss but such is the path of revolution and its inevitability. I don’t expect to reap the benefits any time soon but I’m confident that my children and theirs will be free. I have no doubt whatsoever and this is precisely why I consider myself lucky.

Courtesy of http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/jan/06/burning-books-wales

Evidently though I’m an amateur writer, or it could be that I’m simply scared. Perhaps in all reality, I’m both. I flipped open a blank page and embarked on a novel. I molded the characters, breathed life into their names, and escorted them along the first steps of an intriguing plot. I turned the sunlight on and summoned voices and sounds from the past. I channeled the morning breeze to stir the leaves of the eucalyptus trees then blew on the ripples of the sea to prod them into breaking softly on the sandy beach. My novel is a fictitious journey into the souls of people I intimately knew but never personally met. If it were to even brush with the world of politics it would do it noncommittally and only as an unavoidable background noise. Yet when we started dying in the dozens, day after day after day I lost all ability to imagine. Imagine a novel without imagination. The last written page stared at me for a month, then two before I closed the notebook. A professional writer would have overcome the dire circumstances and continued to write unaffected, unperturbed. Even a novice could have put his work on a shelf and started on something else in an attempt to dress the wound so to speak.

I don’t dare write the truth, for although I can pack up, leave and not return until the nightmare is over, I’m scared for those staying behind. All I can do to loosen the grip of the mind-cuffs is to sputter laconically cryptic posts on my blog every now and then. I scribe sporadic words to deaden the dull ache in my conscience, and to maintain my untarnished legacy at the minimum sustainable level. To declare that I'm a coward takes a lot of courage, so I console myself. Perhaps this explains my bitterness toward those intellectuals on the inside who soiled their reputations by equating the criminals with the victims and my contempt for the expats who chose to stand on the bestial side of humanity.

How others perceive us is ephemeral but we all have to live with ourselves for the rest of our lives. I won't write a word I don't believe in even if I have to stop writing.


BIL said…
One could also start by saying “a jack of all trades, but a master of none”. People often times go through life not really knowing what the “H_ _ _” they want, so they try to straddle in the glide path of mediocrity. They end up lying to themselves and others, but to preserve and have dignity about yourself and for those around you one must sometimes do things that on the outset seem to tarnish ones reputation. In the long run that demeanor truly does set a professional apart from the amateur. That person will, when it is over be able to stand tall and look other people in the eye. Notice how many of the folks when you speak to them cannot look you in the eye? Kind of tells you something about that person…more than words can tell. I know the truth is dangerous however, under the right circumstances can set one free. Once it is out of that bottle, it becomes the genie cannot be put back in. Yes, you could just turn away from it all and call it a day but that (from what I know) is not your style. The state of destiny is the destiny of state, they go hand in hand. Hold to your beliefs and things you feel morally comfortable with and strive forward, you will have a friend here for life..BIL
Isobel said…
Just as every person deserves to live free and peacefully, the world deserves your writing. I know it must be painfully difficult now to be inspired, but I'm so glad you've persevered. Thank you for inspiring me with another excellent post.
Anonymous said…
I totally understand how hard it is to detach yourself. The only advice I can give you is to only do it when your heart is in it or you'll see no point to your story. Try and find the inspiration that got you to write the story in the first place. That inspiration is undoubtedly the best feeling in the world. When it's gone it's almost as if I understand the high a cocaine addict tries to reach. What's your story about anyway? Sounds interesting :)
Gabriela said…
I think this was just something that was meant to happen: Abufares writing. I'm truly convinced that every single step we take in life, every little experience we have prepare us for something big. In your case, it's your writing.
Go ahead, and please keep us posted!
Anonymous said…
Any professional will need to go to work, put the hours and make sure the job is well done.
My profession is not related to creativity, I do not wait to get inspired to do my job.
You are gifted and i am pretty sure you are hardworking, you may as well write dawn and then decide to publish it or not.
Your neighbor
Abufares said…
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Within minutes of a maiden encounter I either seek and capture that magical look or avoid the eyes completely. To look at someone straight in the eye, to give them access to my eyes and let them see inside is both a request and an acknowledgement that the barriers are down. That is only permissible, as far as I'm concerned, between people of equal human stature.
I can't run away from my obligations although I realize that on a higher ethical level, they are preventing me from saying the truth. Being a professional or a good amateur doesn't make a hero out of a person. But heroes we have, and they are relentlessly cleansing the filth of tyranny. It's a long and arduous process and to despair now, when we've merely started, is what the dejected cowards and the destitute psychopaths are betting on. I used to wonder if "Criminal Minds" ever read history but now I realize that they are so disillusioned they actually believe that they will be the first to get away with it.
They won't :-)
Abufares said…
I can't not be inspired when I hear your praise :-) Thank you!
For most of my life I have existed privately and avoided confrontation with the powers that be. Our paths didn't intersect and I was content with that. But I can't see the destruction of human lives around me and remain on the sideline without a pang of pain stabbing my conscience with every falling man, woman and child. This must stop, and now that it has gone this far there should be no holds barred anymore.
Meanwhile, I am torn between introducing new variables, which are relevant to recent developments, to my plot or maintaining my original charted course. I believe once I clear this moral dilemma I can move forward. What do you think?
Abufares said…
@perfectly imperfect
Or shall I call you Yasmin, a most beautiful name :-)
If you read my comment above to Isobel you would've noticed that I need to choose. Life revolves about making choices and I am one who admits to have made a few wrongs ones. Yet, being where I am today is not such a bad result at all.
I have a real-life muse who inspire me enough to write relentlessly till the end of time :-) However, I'm rather burdened by guilt from watching thousands of people die around me and not being able to put an end to it. My story is about the struggle of 2 people in making headway on a road blocked by their personal fallen trees and boulders, and society's gouges and mudslides.
Thank you for you comment, please come again.
Abufares said…
Thank you dear friend for your words of encouragement. You know that they mean the world to me.
I think posting "Writing" is my cry for help, probably to myself. I need to get going again. At one certain moment, I know I'll be able to flip a switch and resume my work. I hope it won't take me too long.
Abufares said…
Always a pleasure to find you here. You're right, a job is a job. I often wondered about workaholics. As far as I'm concerned they are sick bastards in need of treatment, lolll.
Writing, as you might well imagine, is different. Had I been a world renown best selling author I might've looked at writing more like a line of work. I can't enjoy a glass of Arak if I'm not in the right mood let alone write a novel. But I really want to resume my story and I'd better find a way to push myself down to get on my ass and write again.
Dubai Jazz said…
You are very brave my friend.

I miss you writing. Imagination seems to have escaped us all.

Take care.
Abufares said…
My friend DJ
You've been greatly missed. I hope the monsoons ravaging the land have spared you and your loved ones from physical and (as much as possible) mental distress.
Thank you for your kind words. We should only give as long or as much as we don't feel like we're doing anybody a favor.
You take care too.
Anonymous said…
From what I know of you ... you will rise again and very very soon :)

Abu Abdo
Hebe said…
Stress can be either the Mother of Creativity or the Killer of it, depending on the person. Sometimes when I am completely blocked, I just do some reading and escape to another reality. This helps me find my balance, although it can take its own sweet time coming...

You are right now living on the top of a very strenuous situation, and it is easy to feel at loss and without direction. The fact that you can even outline what you are going through speaks of your bravery, honesty and humanity. Your writing will come back, and I believe stronger than ever. How can it not? You were and are always a man of words, it is your essence and your beauty.

My regards to all your family.
keep safe.
Unknown said…
I'm not sure I agree that a professional would have been able to put things aside and continue writing. Writers if anything, are far more sensitive to their surroundings. That's why they don't overlook the little nuances that make life what it is. Beauty doesn't escape them easily, and neither do images pain of suffering. One simple look through he blogsphere and you'll see that this is an endemic problem, sort of like a collective writers' block.

Ultimately every novel is a culmination of thoughts and experiences of the author. Perhaps the turmoil, and the positive ending that we are all sure will come, will enrich the plot and give the story a new dimension.

I can't wait to read the novel. You have created yet another reason for wanting the drama to end.
Abufares said…
@Abu Abdo
Teslam and yes believe it or not I was able to accomplish something very hard yesterday :-)
“The only hard thing is to begin.”
James Russell
Abufares said…
What you said about stress is absolutely true. I'm the kind of person who can't be creative at all under stress. I was able yesterday through conscious discipline to isolate my mind from external nuisances and actually start (or resume) writing. The ensuing 2 hours flew like a dream and I'm happy with the result. If I can make a daily habit out of it I'm on to something.
A man of words, lolll, that title is mistakenly reserved to politicians and demagogues but I actually understand the beauty of it. I am in love with words and through them I fell in love with the rest of the world.
Thank you Hebecita.
Abufares said…
A surgeon is not supposed to operate on a loved one only because professionalism might be compromised. Personal involvement infringes on our performance.
When my father, a retired surgeon and gynecologist, operated on my sister then on me, a colleague asked him how was he able to use the "knife" on his own kids. He said it was very hard at first until he reached the conclusion that he was the best person for the job. Once he made the cut(s), he didn't hesitate.
In my case, I think I was under the influence of an ethical conflict. How can I be involved in a work of fiction while real life tragedy has befallen us? I only published this post when I reached the point where I realized that I needed to do something. I was talking loudly to myself but I'm glad to have found readers (friends) who care enough to pat me on the back and tell me to go on.
I truly believe that if it were not for my positive expectations I wouldn't be able to proceed. Like you, I realize that the end of tyranny is near, no matter how far in days and months it might still be. Let me have a jump start. I might be very busy celebrating with everybody any day now and then a state of elation would be even more difficult to overcome to be creative than the depression we've been living under for decades.
Thank you dear friend.
Yazan said…
This past year was one for the vultures. The sadists and monsters of every kind had their day in the wild. But it is those very specific specimen; the suit-clad, well-shaven, "western-educated" filth that will be judged the harshest by the not so-distant future. And then we'll move on to more pressing matters...

Here's a verse I love from a song I adore.

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They're trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She's in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
"Have mercy on his soul"
They all play on penny whistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row
Abufares said…
These are powerful words. I loved the lyrics. It fits the exact description of Poetry in Motion.
I have to admit that I never heard the song before. You made the right analogy though. Unfortunate but true.
Take care of yourself Yazan and drop a line when you have time.
Shannon said…
The problem with muses is that they work whenever they damn well feel like it. You are a great writer and far from a coward. You are avoiding being foolish, which is a professional and ethical thing. I can't pretend to understand your situation, but I sense your feeling through your expression which is a gift to the world.
Abufares said…
What can I say :-) Thank you :-)))
You might be pleased to know that this post has, sort of, released the jenny.
I've been writing everyday since. I'm focused on my story again although all around me it's more of the same. I won't say that I can't wait to finish because the act of writing itself brings me so much joy and the closest to a sense of satisfaction I may ever experience. I'm in my element and I hope I can maintain the current frame of mind.
Again, many thanks for your huge support.
Abufares said…
@♥●• İzdihër •●♥
Thank you.

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