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.