AfghaniStan Diego

Afghanistan Diego may be purchased and downloaded here: Afghanistan Diego Download

Over the course of the 9 months I spent in Afghanistan I had the opportunity to read several of the books that had been on my “to read” list for years. Camus, Persig, Salinger, and Kafka left me feeling inspired enough to attempt to express my feelings and experiences albeit in a less existential fashion.

I experienced an interesting and somewhat eye opening series of events on the way home for Christmas Vacation. I cannot remember having my patience and mental state tested as much as it was then. Every time something else would go wrong I would assume that I had finally hit rock bottom only to be blindsided by a new and more devastating series of events. By the time I returned to Kabul I figured there was really only one thing I could do; write about it.

At first I settled on telling the story to anyone who would listen. Almost everyone provided positive feedback perhaps out of the boredom common to Afghanistan, or perhaps because they felt the need to sympathize or make me feel better. I decided I would begin my journey one day during a 6 hour watch. By the end of that watch I was extremely excited and the words just bled out of my soul. Every event was brought back to life in my memory with staggering clarity. I felt a charge that I could not describe, and I knew that I must continue writing. Unfortunately for me and everyone else who was reading along, that buzz left me somewhere in the middle of chapter 3. I found myself looking at the project as a chore, and not a means to express or satisfy myself. I finally gathered up the sac to finish what I started this last week, over 4 months after the events transpired. I feel that I am at a good stopping point now though I would like to revisit chapter 3 and 4 later on perhaps to add clarity and a good deal of elaboration.

The Important Part – Lessons Learned:

This seems to be the part of a project that matters; not necessarily the accomplishment itself, but the lessons learned in striving to accomplish it. This little project had many.

  1. Writers must have a ton of stamina. When you are required to produce written work to pay the bills taking a month off, or procrastinating work can lead to the unemployment line. What amazes me even more in hindsight, is that this was my first real writing (short story). Many writers have written well over a hundred.
  2. It is very hard to write a narration of real life events without sounding pompous. It don’t think I can do that statement justice. I found that fiction might be far easy to write than non-fiction. If you write about something tragic (Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) you may come across as looking for pity. If you attempt to convey a point of view or belief, then you risk sounding like an uneducated, uncultured, ass to those with real life experience. If you attempt to be funny (Life, a Death), you run the risk of flopping, or being seen as an immature and irresponsible cynic. Harder still was writing about an experience where I nearly “lost my mind” and salvaging any mental credit what-so-ever afterward (seriously Persig, how the hell did you do that ??? 172 IQ may have helped).
  3. I discussed the project with my father and spoke about some of the difficulties I ran into when writing the final chapter. He seemed pleased with what I wrote though I am not sure how much of that bleed over from a mothers praise. He informed me that it didn’t matter because editors were the ones that made a story gel. Perhaps so but I imagine you cannot command/acquire good editors unless you are yourself an accomplished writer and “geller”. There is the rub.
  4. This isn’t necessarily a lesson learned but more of a thought. I tend to relate everything in the world to sports. I know in many sports there were naturals; those that just picked it up miraculously without practice. Some people are like that with music, where they are born to play. I wonder how many writers have just sat down and wrote a book straight through. How many of them were notable. It seems almost impossible. I tend to lean towards releasing a piece of work before it is entirely done, and even I found myself revisiting sentences or paragraphs for rewording.

What Lies Ahead

Hopefully when I settle down into my house and finally establish an identity as a person* I will be able to revisit the story and write it to the extent that my potential will allow. I feel there is a good deal of room for improvement over the last half of the story.

 

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