From the Pages of the Recollection of a Writer’s Writing Activities

I have tried to concentrate my efforts in writing in a single document. Call it a journal or a memoir of my working days if you will. But this binder is made to contain a relevé of my journey and struggles with the craft and how it got me closer to putting down the word on paper.

[This is part of the entire document and only relates to the writing labor done over the course of a week, or seven days. It by no means represents the entire period over which the writing was completed or recorded]

Day 1

I woke up with the urge to write. Outside my window the merchants could be heard pushing their strollers full of vegetables and selling their products out loud. The sun was bright – brighter than the usual sunny day. My neighbor was at my door to inform me the power was out and we were experiencing a generator failure. So it would be an hour or two before we got any power back.

It was a good chance for me – an opening to get down early in the mud and start writing.

I took out a clean page and started drawing up an outline for my book. But the honking and the cursing coming from the big city and the impatient Lebanese citizens were too much of a distraction for me. Just when I thought tv wasn’t going to be a problem – I guess distractions are always there; we just needed to unlock them to fall for them.

I wrote a sketchy outline but started getting more ideas for my plot. I could see I had a potential story in my hands but the plot was too thick or thin or boring or compressed or expanded or logical or surreal and it was going into many different ways that I decided to take a break and call it a day. That was enough effort and brain storming and soul searching for a day where there was barely any power and too much noise being generated and not enough water or food or alcohol to make it to the night. I would try again tomorrow.

Day 2

Today I called in sick for work. I stayed in bed and thought more and more about my story. The power was back so I turned on the tv to watch some news. They were interviewing some crummy politician who was thinking about scamming the country. I could see it in his eyes even if he wouldn’t admit it. I decided that was enough tv and got down to writing. Out with the page again but this time I tried a different approach. I jotted down all the ideas that came to my mind like a mad scientist devising a plot for world domination. Some of them were brilliant and others were less so. But I needed to get them all out there to know which of them I was going to use to construct my book. There was also an attempt at coming up with a name for the lead character but it ended in failure. I was still without a book title, any substantial plot or course of action and a nameless lead character. Well, at least I was certain he would be male. Or is it better to have a female lead?

Day 3

Well today I did go to work. Sat 9 hours straight in front of my laptop thinking about my story. Didn’t get much work done in the end and my boss called me in to his office for a performance review at the end of the day. He tried to persuade me to put in more effort and went on rambling about the economic crisis we were drained in and how it was important for a large firm like us to keep productivity to a high. I told him about my story and how I needed time to focus and regroup my ideas. He told me to get my priorities straight or he’d have no other choice but to fire me. I left the office and went for a beer. Alcohol was the best cure to a bad day. It never gave me any answers or clarity but at least it took some of the bad sting away. You know the feeling when you’re going through a bad day and you start to worry the rest of the week will play out the same way? Well that was the feeling I was getting. On my way back home some girl was riding in a taxi that was playing Arabic music on the radio. The girl was on her phone and she looked very pretty. I thought about girls and how they could still be a distraction even when they weren’t in your life. I felt good about myself that I didn’t have a girlfriend to tie me down but felt bad afterwards when I started thinking about the girl in the taxi. Who was she on the phone with? Probably a Lebanese guy five years older than her working in Dubai or KSA and sending her nude photos of himself.

I got home and felt disgusted with myself. I was completely alone and stopped seeing this solitude as an asset. It bothered me now that I had to accept it and had gotten used to it. Why the hell was I locked in here digging through my brain to get some words out on paper while other guys were out in the park kissing their girlfriends?

I scribbled down a couple more ideas for a possible plot and went to bed early.

Day 4

I didn’t do any writing today. I took a half-day off work, got in early, fixed myself a nice cup of green tea and curled in bed with a good book. I was reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast hoping to get some inspiration from it. But I couldn’t. It was nothing like honey or milk or juice. It wasn’t something you could extract and I guess I grew envious of Hem and all the great writers who stumbled upon it or just happened to find it in their attics (which led me to checking my attic and only finding dust balls and a couple of dead roaches lying flat on their backs).

Day 5

More than halfway through the week and I still hadn’t written a word for my story. I tried to trim down the ideas and re-write the ones that looked good to me on a new clean page. The fresh whiteness of the paper always motivated me to get going and push for a new start. I wrote down the ideas and then highlighted them with a marker. A girl I hadn’t talked to for a while started texting me but I decided to blow her off. Then I started thinking about her naked and if she’d consider sleeping with a writer. Then I decided I was wasting too much time and started thinking about going somewhere that wasn’t home to get my creative juices moving. Somewhere public. The nearest Starbucks was a 7-minute drive away but it was cold and I hadn’t filled my car and the gas prices were up again and I had very little money. I put on some Beatles and listened to a few songs and made myself a ham and cheese grilled sandwich and went to bed.

Day 6

Well, I finally managed to do it. I wrote the first few lines of my story. I wasn’t too sure what to make of them but I kept them just in case. It was a good feeling – and people often confuse that feeling with hardship and suffering and pain. Well let me tell you: it actually feels good and relieving. Like coming out of the water for air after holding your breath underwater for many seconds. The actual pain and suffering come in the moments prior to writing the first few words; they come in the hours and the days gone without writing. But once you get the first words down the mental block is removed and it becomes easier to see where you’re going.

I felt like I was able to move a giant boulder. Like the one they’d put in front of Christ’s tomb. Which reminded me – the church bells were ringing in the neighborhood and the sound was loud and distracting. It had been a long while since I hadn’t ventured into a church and I don’t think I would fit in well with the believers at this moment. Meanwhile the fanatics on our borders are chopping off heads and executing anyone who can’t yell ‘ALLAH’ with a hint of a melody in their voice and no one’s writing or doing anything about it. Maybe because the ones who were capable of writing were already locked in jails and madhouses. Well, I was still available but I had a book to write and couldn’t afford to be distracted. I’d already gotten the first words down – the rest should run more smoothly from here on.

Day 7

It’s the end of the week and I only have a few words down on paper. Today I got a call from a girl saying she wanted to meet me for coffee and I decided to accept her proposition. After coffee I invited her over to my place to check out some of my books. She had mentioned she was a huge fan of classics and I was excited to learn she was a literary enthusiast. After going over a few books together I asked her if I could kiss her. She refused and I tried to slide my hand and grab her breast but she hit me with one of my books on the cheek and left me lying on my own bedroom floor in pain and showed herself out of my house.

After the pain receded and I recovered from that physical and moral blow, I decided the safest thing for me was to get back to my writing. After all, the words were always there waiting for me like true friends and loyal companions. I reread the lines I wrote and decided they were bad – really bad – for a book opener. So I deleted them. Then I started thinking about a new bunch of words but my phone was ringing again and it was another girl calling so I gave up on the page and answered it…

[End of the week]


Be sure to check out my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, now available on Amazon and in paperback.

A Road Away From Home – Hanna Abi Akl


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