Writing Seminar

I walk into the room and there is a small table with four women sitting. The head organizer introduces me to them. They are all younger than me.

One of them is 22 and plays basketball for a local team. She suffers from speech problems. Another one is Armenian. She is 17 and fresh out of school with high ambitions of making it into law school. She has great big emerald-green eyes.

The last two are friends. They are 16, still in school, and sit next to each other with matching writing journals. I look at these women and they all have one thing in common: they have high aspirations in life. Two of them are still in school pursuing their education. The pretty Armenian girl has high hopes for a successful college run. The other harbors the ambition of becoming a professional basketball player and getting drafted abroad to play for a big team.

I was the only one walking in carrying an American dream on my back: to make it exclusively as a writer. Here, in another Arab country or anywhere on the face of the planet. I had nothing else to gain or lose from the world.

That seemed to trouble them all as they gave me piercing looks – I felt I was being attacked by a flock of bats in a dark cave. Even the writing instructor seemed to have other (better?) things to do after giving the session.

So I went to the adjacent room, got a black coffee and joined the rest of them. I sat at the table’s edge while they sat at the other end aligned next to each other.

The instructor gave us an exercise: to write a story starting with the following words, ‘The door opens.’

We were timed for 5 minutes and the only rule to stay in the game was this: never stop writing. Never take your pen off the page. Well, I’ve been writing non-stop since I first got the call from the craft. I’ve been struck by the wand of the word and caught writing fever and now I need to strip the page from under my hands every time I need to attend another task or chore.

So I wrote: The door opens and I suddenly find myself inside a small room surrounded by four women. They were all younger than me. Two of them were Muslim and best friends coming from the same school. One was a chubby basketball player who had speech problems. The last one was an Armenian girl with beautiful green eyes and cherry-red lipstick.

I greeted them all, took the Armenian girl by the hand and led her to a corner. I shoved her body against the wall and started kissing her.

She begged me to stop.

I kept kissing her.

She pushed me away.

I kept kissing her.

I kept kissing her until

The timer sounded.

We stopped writing. We were asked to read what we wrote. I took my piece, got up, and headed for the open door while they all looked at me with curious eyes.

The door opens and I exit the building with a small paper half-crushed in my hand. The piece of paper contains a little bit of writing. I throw it away somewhere on the street and go looking for a bar to drink and forget the madness I just wrote.


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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