I met the homeless writer the other day.
Apparently lot of a lot of my friends knew about him. I hadn’t heard about him until I was at a book event where you can exchange, buy or sell old books.
I brought a bunch of books I had never had any interest in, and told myself by the end of the day I would sell more books than buy. I was concentrating hard on that point, trying to convince myself that I tend to spend too much money on books every month, when my friend, Elianne, pointed out from a small crowd of people an old man whom she identified as “the homeless writer.”
I got immediately overwhelmed with curiosity. I wanted to ask a million questions about him but I did not . I didn’t want him noticing we were talking about him. I didn’t want to be rude. So I sat under my big white umbrella next to the table I had displayed my books observing him, imagining what his life was like, how he was like.
He looked like a nice old man. He was friendly and smiled often. He also seemed to like meeting new people so I introduced myself and told him that I heard he was a writer and that his had books he had written.
He asked me about the books I brought, what I liked to read. I answered and asked back polite questions, none of which had to do with his life. Again, I didn’t want to be rude.
He showed me the books he was selling and amongst them the ones he had written.
” I have written ten books,” he told me, “but I only brought these four titles here. If I had to display my other books, I would have to buy them from a bookstore, ” he said “ but I don’t have money. “
If I was interested in those books, he added, I would be able to find them at a bookstore he added.
Some of his publications are plays, one was called “Selling Fish to the Sea- A day in a writer’s life.”
It talks about a writer who is trying to sell a play to 2 of his producer friends who unfortunately have already too many plays on their hands.
I found him of a sort of poetic existence. I thought living the life of “la Boheme” was dead, but there he was a living example the ancient artist who lives by his craft alone.
The more I learned about him the more interesting a person I found him.
He was a street kid. He used to be an illiterate-chewing-gum-selling street urchin, but then he loved stories. He started inventing stories before he could write. He learned to read and write and never stopped since. He is being published through a Lebanese well-known publishing house. Again I didn’t want to be rude by asking him a ton of questions. I just bought a few of his books and his autobiography.
I am ashamed to say that I thought about quitting the writing dream lately. Thoughts tortured me. They said how do I ever expect to make it as a writer– Make a respectable living out of it? They said maybe it was time to quit childish dreams and grow up.
I’ve always asked myself, what was the exact moment where adults choose to give up on their childhood dreams. What kind of responsibility would make a person to grow out of the little boy or girl they are on the inside. I understand some dreams are easy to grow out of, as a child I wanted to be a ballerina but I never had any classes; at 10 I wanted to be a scientist working in a laboratory doing fantastic experiments (I blame Bill Nye, the Science Guy), but it turned out I couldn’t stand chemistry . I had always been writing stories, poems and diaries since the age of eight, but I only realized that I wanted to be a writer at around 19.
Following your heart looks fairly easy in the movies, there is a lot of montage and concludes usually a happy ending. Watching these kind of movies, gives you a warm feeling inside, gets you naively inspired.
Meeting the homeless writer got me in a different kind of inspired mood. It showed me the ugly part of following your heart, and a man who is very happy to do it.
I don’t want to be homeless, but I understand that art does not always pay with success. Do you love it? Does doing it bring meaning to your life? Corny question, the last one, but if the answer is yes you can’t stop. Whether success comes or not.