How I Became A Writer

My thoughts on being called a “writer”

How did I become a writer? I have no idea. It just happened.

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a writer. If you told me seven years ago that I’d be writing articles for the Guardian and blogging, I’d say you were crazy.

I never imagined that I’d be a writer. For me, it was not until I was imprisoned, and unable to communicate with the world in any other way, that my “writer’s voice” suddenly emerged.

On the one hand (the left?), the simple truth is that I don’t want to write. On the other hand (the right?), I do wish to speak. Yet, the prison and the military bar me from doing this. I can not be seen or heard. No pictures. No video and no audio. That makes writing the only way that you can hear my voice.

You can read my words, and I get to read yours. I want to read your words. You send me so many of your letters and cards, it is impossible to count them all. But your kind and loving words do get fair attention every day.

During the holiday season — a difficult time to be so far from home — I will often spend an entire day — from breakfast to midnight — reading your messages.

Some of these letters are from publishers. They have sent me dozens of letters. Many are asking me to write books for them. Although it does make me feel “good” that publishers care about my story, what I feel like saying to them all is: “Thank you, but I don’t want to write a book right now.”

What I don’t say is “especially a book that is edited for shock value and shrink wrapped with copyright ‘protections’ to make money.”

Quite simply, I don’t want to write an autobiography, or memoir. We are not done yet are we? I am only 28 years old.

We are going to do more, but, even when it feels like the world is burning, I am left feeling voiceless. All I can do is write. It is the only voice you get to hear. I am not writing. I am speaking. I am speaking for you and you alone to hear, and hearing my voice should be free.