In the movie Wander Boys, a character named Q emphatically proclaims, "I am a writer!" He does that in front of an amphitheater filled with students and faculty, and everyone erupts in applause. He is, indeed, a successful writer with a house in the Hamptons and a new book coming out every eighteen months.
People tend to see proof of success in the number of books one has published, in the fact that he or she is a millionaire and lives in one of those posh neighborhoods only the rich and famous could afford. Most of the truly great writers, however, are not remembered for writing twelve books or for being the owners of a 6-bedroom 6-bathroom mansion with a heated swimming pool in the backyard. They are remembered and honored for writing books that left an indelible mark on the humankind's consciousness.
Then, at one point we were living under one of the most dictatorial regimes in the world, and the society was collapsing economically and morally at the hands of a communist totalitarian regime that was neither communist, nor socialist.
Speaking of centralized government and government controlled institutions, to some extent we have the same thing going on today in America, with six mega-corporations controlling over 90% of the media, plus the publishing industry. This was the intended result of the Telecommunication Act, Title 3 signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, and the reason why TV anchormen and anchorwomen are paid double-figure salaries is not because they produce something that valuable but because they are expected to read with conviction from the script handed out to them by the custodial authorities.
I decided to leave the old country but I only wanted to be away for a while. I left with the intent of returning in four to five years, of abandoning my acting career and moving into a remote village in our beautiful mountains where I was to complete my book projects that were to help change things back home.
Change comes always from within and my plan was to sent out messages to the people that would have subtly fermented an awakening that would have generated a movement that was to bring significant social change. This was, indeed, idealistic but it was an ideal worth dedicating one's life to.
In that room, surrounded by crawling cockroaches and screaming neighbors on hard drugs I wrote The Winner, the saga of a lost generation, my generation. This was a three-volume book based on personal life experiences.
I could not wait to go back to the old country to have it published. I also missed my mountains and the people I loved. Extremely homesick, after spending a couple of months in Paris with expat friends, the return finally happened. It happened though much sooner than I had planned when I left the country, and I was basically returning home as penniless as I was when I left.
Back in my country, government men contacted me sensing an opportunity for them to claim a political victory. Few among those who left a country that was like a prison would return there, but I always felt turning your back to the problems of the world would never solve the world's problems. I refused to write the propagandistic anti-American articles they requested, so the regime black listed my name. As an actor, I was not allowed to appear on a stage in the capital city, on TV, or to be cast in a movie. As a writer, whatever I submitted for publication they would not publish.
Other than by reading your mail, wiretapping your phone conversations or staking out your house, in those days they had no means of tracking one's every activity, so I was able to publish a couple of articles on paranormal and unexplained mysteries with magazines in cities outside the immediate reach of the central government's henchmen. The day the so-called communist regime was overthrown I was convinced the book will finally be published, and I had other books in mind, with a number of projects being already in the work. Certain developments would not allow that though to happen.
Most local and international media organizations were describing the events that led to the end of the communist regime as a glorious popular revolt. In reality, it was a power takeover organized with the help of American and Russian intelligence agencies. A few weeks after the coup d'état took place, I realized the most corrupt members of the old regime and of the secret police were taking over the country. This was when I started free-lancing as a journalist with a number of recently established newspapers writing political and social commentary. I was soon hired to write full time for one of the main newspapers in the country, and my incipient career as a writer went now into a completely new direction.
Everything I thought it was going to happen in terms of political developments and the direction the country was going to take, which was everything I would warn the reader about in my daily column came to pass and the nation plunged into what would be decades of wanton corruption. Soon after the new government was "democratically" elected in completely rigged elections, military units sent out by the new government to silence opposition ransacked the headquarters of my newspaper. They sent them dressed in miner outfit, headlamps and coal dust on their face included, to make it look like a popular revolt. Nevertheless, Washington would officially declare the situation a return to dictatorship, and under repeat death threats received from government supporters I had to leave the country for the second time, this time for good. I did not get to see The Winner in print, and the manuscript remains to this day in a box stored in the basement of my current home.
When I arrived to America I made a vow that in five years I would publish something, anything in English. My life would take though yet another totally unexpected turn. After initially the White House administration declared the situation in my old country a return to dictatorship, in total disregard of that the State Department changed its country report to a more favorable description, which made it very difficult for me to be granted political asylum.
As I would find out later during an investigation I conducted for the purpose of writing an ample letter to Immigration and Naturalization Services, the country report change was done to allow United States to use oil refining capacities in my old country at the time the Gulf War was about to erupt. According to the existing law, USA could not do business with a dictatorial regime, so they basically changed the facts to make them fit their agenda.
I left the country knowing I had a very strong immigration case and I was counting on being able to get proper documents, a job, and to be reunited with my children in a matter of weeks. A consequence of the falsification of the country report by the Department of State, I would not see my children for nine years. I survived that because I realized the only way I could be of any help to them was by staying alive. I would miss though the most beautiful years of their childhood and also the most important years of their entire life, the formative years.
During those nine years of constant agony I would also go through unusual and in many instances enlightening experiences. In the end, everything happens for a good reason. Our task is to figure out what that reason is. In retrospective, these enlightening experiences and a number of other very unusual experiences I had in the old country became the foundation for A Time of Change.
For a number of years I would write extensively for newspapers serving my community in US, Canada, France and Israel. The topics were various, from current affairs, political commentary, ancient and modern history, to religion and science, which is how A Time of Change would eventually be structured.
While on a trip to New Hampshire for a job interview, on my way home I took an unplanned exit off Interstate 93 and I ended up in the Berkshires, Western Massachusetts. At the time this was considered one of the most culture saturated rural areas in the United States. Again, everything happens for a good reason, and that unplanned contact with the Berkshires inspired me to write an essay. This was to be my first and only essay in English, and it appeared in the Berkshires Weekly, a cultural supplement of The Berkshires Eagle.
Titled Finding My Way Home, the theme of that piece was my rediscovery within that cultural ambiance of who I actually was and the equally thrilling realization that my life had a purpose. Among others, in it I felt compelled to share with the world the vivid sense I developed while in the Berkshires that one day I was to write some book of books. I did not know what the subject was going to be but I had this clear feeling it was to be something addressed to the world.
The fact was I had now made good on the vow taken five years earlier about publishing something in English five years after I arrived in America. I would though not write anything else in English for the next ten years, when I would start working on a book project that eventually became A Time of Change.