On August of 2018, I publicly announced that I am writing a book. Saying it out loud was a relief. It wasn't the first time I make this decision. In fact I even have a couple books written and filed in the bottom of a dusty box inside an obscure closet. From time to time, I mention them in passing only to dismiss the whole work as a hobby. There is a reason why I can't publish those books. I can never remember what they are about until I start reading them over.
However, the content of the new book had been decided before I had written a single word down. The first day, I wrote a draft of a chapter and the final title popped in my head. I called it: Just Fired. I could focus on this book because I didn't have to come up with a story, I only had to write down what had happened in my life. I had been featured in hundreds of news outlets and I was getting constant calls to pose as the experts in the matter of Artificial Intelligence. The least I could do was to sit down and write down my thoughts while they were still fresh.
I wrote the first chapter. Then I read it back. It's interesting how writing works.
"No no no, that's not what I was trying to say."
I started over the chapter to better explain what I was trying to say. Few days later, I come back to read it and I have no idea what the author of these words was trying to say. If I didn't have direct access to his mind, I would've dismissed his book. But, I knew his story, I knew the events he was trying to describe first hand, I knew he had an interesting story to tell. Except, when he told the story, he described different events.
I rewrote the chapter to the point of giving up. I couldn't understand how I had managed to write one story and be compared to Naipaul and Franz Kafka (authors I hadn't read at the time). They praised my play with words, my keen eye for details, and my use of simple, down to earth language anyone can understand... Lord!
The famous blog post was a 2000 words story that gave surface details of an event. I couldn't understand how that author had achieved such fame with so few words, but now I had promised to write an entire book. So I went to my own website, clicked on that eerie mechanical Eye of Sauron thumbnail, and read The Machine Fired Me one more time. I put myself in the authors shoes and followed him along as he went through his day.
I was there when the phone rang at 7 am. He woke up, picked up the phone, and tried to dismiss the alarm with one eye opened. Only he noticed that it was a phone call. He ignored it all the same. I was there in the car with him, where he drove in silence, never turning on the radio or music. He preferred the silence that nurtured his own thoughts. I listened in when he put on a single ear-piece while driving, and played back his voicemails. I heard the panicked voice of the recruiter on the dangling earphone when she was asking if he was OK. I saw that little tick in his eyes when he remembered that there were other people that shared his name at work, that the recruiter must have been mistaken.
I remember when he wrote those words down a few months later, he was sort of embarrassed to reveal the details. He would add some from time to time, then remove them, then add them back. He would name names sometimes, because he believed the world needed to see these people for who they truly were. But later he would remove the names, feeling no true grudge against them. It took an entire year of adding and removing details until he felt confident enough to publish the blog post. And when he did, he only shared it with the few friends who remembered the event. There was a notable statement that was added, modified, removed, changed, added back, then reverted.
I was fired. There was nothing my manager could do about it.
It took me a while to become comfortable with this statement. And then, another while to become comfortable to tell the rest of the world that I was fired. Not dismissed, temporarily displaced, or even laid off. Just fired.
It's human nature to want to make ourselves look good, and being in interviews everyday, I was trying to become the hero of my stories. When I looked back at the draft I had written, I understood why it felt wrong. In person, I was pretty positive about life, things were going my way. But the story was about a frustrated man that genuinely believe that his work was important. He was no hero and all his work had been rendered useless. His story was the one that had to be told. It didn't make me look good but it was what I had to say.
There was no reason to change another word from this chapter. I posted it on the blog as an extract of the book to come. It gathered very positive responses from my readers. It's not a book written by a professional author. It is written by me, and if my voice resonates with you, you will be in for a treat.
The process is slow, but the book is coming. Subscribe to the newsletter, or follow me on twitter. As soon as it is ready, you'll be the first to know.
Thank you for reading