Fear and Loving in Morocco – An Accidental Conversation with an American Writer

 

Last year, when I was about to finish my hitchhiking tour around Morocco, I was told by Niko, a fellow traveller, that I should meet one of his best pals, a man called Leo, also a traveller, who was wandering Morocco at the time. Weeks later I met Leo in Tangier, my first and last Moroccan city before returning to Europe. We had a couple of coffees, chatted for hours and said goodbye that same day. We kept in touch remotely and erratically for a year. And one year later we found ourselves bumping into each other by complete accident in the unlikely town of Tinghir, south of the High Atlas. Leo had cut his long hair and was looking healthier than the last time I’d seen him. He still dressed flamboyantly (definitely outlandishly for Moroccan standards) and had become adept at rock-climbing. More importantly, he had finally finished writing his first novel and was eager to speak with me about it. What follows is a random and spontaneous conversation, recorded on my dying mobile phone, that we both had while drinking tea in a couple of Moroccan coffee shops.

 

JS: So, we met a year ago in Tangier. You were writing a book back then. Before we get talking about the book, let me ask you: how the hell did you end up in Morocco in the first place?

LS: Oh, totally by accident. I was in Portugal, Lisbon, the first European city I jumped to. I ended up staying in Sintra and learning a bit of Portuguese. While I was there, some backpackers told me and a friend to go to Morocco because it was really another world. And I was curious and wanted to see a Muslim country anyway. There was so much propaganda that was drilled into our heads in the States after 9/11 that I wanted to see if it was real or not. Because we were really brought up to be afraid of the Arab and the Muslim, people expected me to get kidnapped when I told them I was going to Morocco… So I hitchhiked from Lisbon all the way down to Tarifa, southern Spain and was meant to be in Tangier for one day. I was with another American. We said “alright, we’ll just be in Tangier for one day and then we’ll have seen the Muslim world and then we’ll hitchhike back to Lisbon and fly to San Francisco.”

 

JS: So, see a Muslim country for one day. Tick the box kind of thing…

LS: Yeah. We were so afraid, man! Afraid and naive. We got on the boat and hopped into Tangier, it was New Year’s Eve. We’re both so obscenely culture-shocked because we had never travelled outside the States and there’s so much fearmongering that happens back home. The city is dirty and is not well lit and we got off the boat and there’s twenty guys asking us what we want and being aggressive in our faces and we haven’t really slept or eaten much for three weeks because we’ve been hitchhiking and didn’t know what to do.

We wound up being picked up by a hustler and shoved into something like the cheapest hotel in Tangier where rooms are mouldy and African refugees stay, waiting to get into Spain. So we got shoved into this hotel and all of a sudden we’ve been in Tangier for a week and we didn’t know how that happened. And then, all of a sudden, we’re on a train to Marrakech, where we stayed for a week. And then we started hitchhiking out to the Sahara. And somewhere we kind of woke up, looked at a map and my friend said “Wow! So we’re a couple thousand kilometres deep into this country!”

We were totally blown away by the aesthetic and the energy. I was loving it. I didn’t sleep for three days when we first got here. My friend slept and annoyed the hell out of me. So, we’re in a city known as ‘the Gateway to the Sahara’ and my friend tells me “Dude, we’ve got to go back. Our plane leaves soon, man. We need to go!” and I said to him “Alright man, you go on ahead. I’m gonna stay. I want to ride this thing. I’ve got 150 dollars to my name. I wanna see what’s out there. Fuck that plane. I want to see what happens.” So I hopped into another bus to Tinghir and then ended up meeting Nick (a fellow traveller) and staying in Morocco for a year. Basically that’s how I got sucked in.

Photo: Mariana Cervantes

JS: I’m almost afraid of asking you this: what actually happened during that one year you stayed in Morocco?

LS: Wow, that’s a long story. I had to write a book about it, to explain it and process it.

 

JS: Well, I have 15% left on my battery, so we can keep going until it runs out.

LS: OK… So Nick was somebody who confirmed that the type of life I’d been dreaming about living was in fact possible and attainable. I didn’t know anyone who’d travelled, really, in a rugged fashion. Americans don’t travel. Maybe for a week or two for vacation, but leaving the country for any extended period of time without a plan was totally unheard of. Like, it didn’t exist. Nobody I’d known, or anybody my friends knew, had ever done it. It was just a non-possibility.

So there I was with someone who had been traveling for eight years without a plan. Nick was just like “Fuck it, I’m gonna see the world. I’m young, the world’s my oyster. I want to learn languages.” So I ended up pairing with him and two Mexicans and we hitchhiked and formed a small circus for a period of time. They didn’t have any money. The circus disbanded. Then Nick and I went back to Tangier because I had a hunch that was where I needed to be. And we ended up starving really intensely in Tangier for about three months.

 

JS: Why? Lack of money?

LS: We didn’t have any money, we were struggling to pay our rent of 100 dollars. Both of us were really stubborn and we didn’t want to ask for money from people. We were trying to juggle, Nick was trying to teach language classes. I had mapped the city out and was hustling tourists, being a guide, doing odd jobs like painting signs. Our neighbours would come down and give us a meal once every few days which was what kind of kept us alive.

So we went through this intense stint of hunger for about three months. Then, one day, I saw this man walking around in the city. He looked like a B-class rock star who had recorded three or four albums and had had maybe two good tours of the world and then retired in Tangier and nobody heard from his music career again. Turns out was a French journalist who retired to Tangier and opened a riad with his partner. We ended up talking and they gave us jobs. And an apartment. We were living in this shithole in the old medina. So he really saved our asses.

 

JS: So at any point during this intense experience did you think “OK, screw this, screw starvation. I want to go back to mom.”?

LS: Sure. I was scared-shitless. I thought “What the fuck am I doing?” Though, going back to my parents for a long period of time has never been an option or choice I would make. Also, I was really against the 21st century, so I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t have a laptop even while I was travelling. I didn’t really check the internet in the cyber cafes and was still living in this imaginary land. So yeah, I was scared-shitless on the edge of Africa, in an unknown city, in this dirty, insanely corrupt place… at least that’s how it appeared in my mind. I only spoke English at the time, didn’t know anybody, didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I was hungry and had no idea where I was going. But the thing is, I didn’t want to go back to America because I’d been sick for a long time there. Desperate, obscenely desperate. I didn’t like it, I felt like something was wrong. So when I got to Morocco I wanted to perform an experiment to see what happens if you don’t have any money, don’t speak the language and don’t call anybody for help. Just to see what happens in life if you let yourself do that.

Back then, I didn’t have any concept of the future or cause and effect. I was just really right there. And poverty does that to you anyway. If you really have no money you can’t think ahead to the future, you can’t grasp it. It’s too abstract. If you have 100 dollars to your name, you can make some plans. But when you’re at zero, the future doesn’t exist. I had a comfortable childhood. I come from America. So this was a taste of poverty. I’ve seen other types of poverty that are real in a different way, in a longer, more drawn out way where it is much harder, maybe impossible to escape from. Somewhere in my mind I knew I had a life to persevere on. So I had a choice, even if I wasn’t consciously aware of it at.

 

JS: Why did you remain in Morocco and Tangier in particular?

LS: The country kind of lends itself to the imagination, to the fantastic. It kind of draws you in and seduces you — especially if you have a large romantic imagination in the first place. Anyway, I’d planned to join Nick and his girlfriend Cynthia and work on their project Journal of Nomads and travel together. But what ended up happening was that I flew to Paris, met some incredible people and stayed there for a month. Then I knew I was close to Tangier, so I thought I could go back to Morocco real quick, just for two weeks, just to see it and give it emotional closure.

 

JS: So Tangier was still unfinished business?

LS: Yeah. So I jumped back and did a quick hitchhiking tour around the whole country for three weeks. It felt really empty, it was kind of a brutal solo hitchhiking tour. I remember feeling totally hollow. During that time I was thinking “Man, I have a book to write, partially about that year and about Tangier!” So I went back there and ended up in Tangier for another year, writing. Which brings us to now.

 

JS: So the book is finished. What is it called?

LS: Gravity According to Birds.

 

JS: Did you actually see any birds in Tangier?

LS: There’s a bunch of bird cages there… but birds experience a different field of gravity than we do, they’re able to bend it a little bit from our eyes and achieve flight. Not that they’re actually breaking the law of gravity, it’s just a poetic image…but when you first start travelling it feels like you’re flying. Hell, even if you’re on vacation – you’re out of the routine, out of the normal, you can go any direction you’d like.

I believe birds are in one way a symbol for freedom, for lightness, for liberation and in other ways a symbol of the mind, and if poorly kept, insanity… and Tangier is a quietly insane city.

 

JS: Tell me about the creative process of writing a book, and this one in particular.

LS: Well, part of the reason I ended up in Tangier is because there’s nothing to do there. It’s also the first city I really fell in love with, it’s a very charming city, and there are no distractions. I think I kind of needed that. I needed to live like a deranged monk to write this thing. So I rented a cheap hotel room in the old city and forced myself to sit in that room with a typewriter. And I was smoking like thirty cigarettes and drinking four or five cups of strong coffee a day, so I got jacked up on caffeine and nicotine and just smoked and threw myself at the page.

It was a long, weird process which involves conversations with other people to cross-reference and nourish, a dialogue with the external world that’s happening all the time. It doesn’t all come from internal shit-musings and meanderings. Material is constantly coming in, or I’m constantly hearing some snatch of conversation, or seeing some human quirk in myself or others I can use.

JS: It doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience.

LS: Honestly, I remember feeling so happy somewhere in there. I had been writing for seven years, poetry and whatnot, and had been telling myself “Look, you need to write a novel before you’re 27. It’s important that you learn how to do it, or at least try early.” And all of a sudden there I was actually doing it. This was a lot of hard work, a bit of pain, and a lot of fun. I will never physically destroy myself again like I was doing then, the cigarettes and such, that is just romantic foolishness. But I was really fulfilled because I was actually doing this thing I told myself for seven years I would do but didn’t know how to.

You know, I had a whole flash of the narrative structure when I was in Paris. I saw the whole thing laid out back then so it was then a question of sitting down and pulling it out of my ribs. And obviously it changed and grew, morphed in the process… and a few months before I flew out of the States all my journals burned. Yeah, fifteen or so journals burned in a house fire that started from a forest fire. So, it was like a fresh start, cleaned out the attic a bit you could say…

 

JS: And you told me you wrote the book on a typewriter. Why?

LS: Writing is really abstract. At least for me. I needed to see the pages, the ink, the paper. I needed to touch it, feel the weight, shuffle them around. It has to be a sensorial, sensual experience. On the computer it’s just too drifty. I mean, languages are hard to grasp anyway.

Photo: Mariana Cervantes

JS: Where did you get a typewriter?

LS: Man, I’ve been writing on a typewriter for seven years. I brought it across the Atlantic, up to London and down to Tangier in my backpack. It’s actually still in Tangier. The key Q is broken. The whole first draft doesn’t have a Q anywhere. People were reading and asking me what do you have against Qs? Anyway, it was like this funky literary fantasy. I was living in a shitty hotel in the old medina in Tangier writing on a typewriter, which was one of my dreams. It didn’t have to be Tangier, it just happened to be. It could’ve been any city, but not in America, really.

 

JS: And how does Shia LaBeouf get in the picture?

LS: Oh, Shia LaBeouf really helped me out on a few late nights. You know… I’m just by myself in my hotel bed, there’s nothing to do…

 

JS: I’m not sure I like where this is heading…

LS: Well, I just got sucked into the YouTube hole! And for whatever reason I was watching this silly musical on Shia LaBeouf where he’s running through the woods. And all of a sudden I found myself going on this streak of Shia LaBeouf videos. And I remember I was struggling finishing off some chapters on the fucking book and I came across this video where Shia LaBeouf screams ‘DO IT!’ As I watched it, something clicked and I went “Wow, thanks Shia! I’m going to finish those chapters now.

So yeah, Shia LaBeouf helped me finish some chapters. I mean, after living in Tangier for so long, I started having these disproportionate reactions to things. Because I was pretty isolated too for a long while, in kind of a strange way… even though I have friends there.

 

JS: OK, standard shitty question: why would someone read your book?

LS: That is a shitty question, yeah. I’ve actually been trying to think about that and writing a synopsis and how to pitch it. I have no idea how I’m going to publish this thing, you know… but let’s just say that it shows the inner workings of a certain segment of really brash, sharply inquisitive and curious youth struggling with transition and spirituality in the age of information.

The pretty deep questions we ask ourselves when we’re young about identity, loss of innocence, trauma, trying to understand the world we’re born into, cycles, deceptions, explorations, encountering a very foreign culture and what that does… and drifting off the path into some of the strange labyrinths of life. Being stuck between two worlds, the flow of time in the old world and in the new world… it’s a long love letter to Tangier too, in many ways.

 

JS: So it’s a coming of age kind of story.

LS: Definitely coming of age. The handful of people who read it said it was really raw, beautiful and emotional. So it seems like I struck a nerve with them because they seemed pretty touched. It also starts in the real world and very definitely moves in another direction, until the reader doesn’t know where they are anymore. I wanted to wrap the reader up in cotton, stuff their ears with lint and whisk them away into a dreamworld without them realizing how they got there.

 

JS: So you have this saved somewhere?

LS: Yeah, of course. I have a digital copy inside a pen drive I carry as a necklace around my neck.

 

JS: But you have it saved in other places, right?

LS: Yeah. But I didn’t for a whole year. I only had the typewritten copy with me for a year.

 

JS: That’s totally crazy. Why would you do that to yourself?!

LS: I know. That’s what everybody told me. They were like “You’re gambling! What the fuck is wrong with you?!” I liked it. I like testing myself and testing life. And I liked to live on the edge at the time…

 

JS: So where did you keep that only copy during a year?

LS: In a desk drawer, in my backpack, under the pillow, next to the sink…

 

JS: Next to the sink… So now you have a book. I am fascinated with the fact that someone would purposely go back to Tangier, a place where there’s nothing to do. Tell me more about Tangier and your return there.

LS: Well, like I said it’s the first city that I really fell in love with. Also, there’s probably seven or eight Tangiers that actually exist underneath and above the main city. Tangier is the city of illusion. One of the biggest topics of conversation for everybody who lives in Tangier is Tangier. It’s a character in itself and it has a force and personality that strikes people immediately.

People hate or love Tangier. People have shown up for one day and bought a house. I’ve seen this happening again and again. And they don’t know why. There’s something really captivating and beautiful about the city that can’t be explained. Nobody knows how to explain it. I had to write a book to try to explain it, if only to myself. And there’s also an extremely sinister side and a whole part of Tangier that is absolutely bullshit, beautiful, horrifying bullshit and deception… I remember talking with a friend about this: Tangier is like a beautiful lover that promises you something incredible every morning and fails to deliver. But you wake up every morning and there’s still that promise and you expect it all day and this just keeps going on. And all of a sudden you’ll be there for three years. If you’re not careful you’ll end up not leaving that city and wind up an old man there not really knowing what happened. Which may be just fine, there are worse places to be, certainly.

 

JS: Tangier sounds like a wormhole.

LS: It is! It’s weird, man. I got stuck there for about two years and now that I’m out, I’m like ‘thank God!’ Carved a book out of it. It was good for me to get out of Tangier. But I know I’ll also be glad to be there again before I leave.

 

JS: So that was the drive for you to leave Tangier? The project was over, so that was it?

LS: Well, rock climbing was the drive to get out of Tangier. But I tried to get out of the city for three months but for whatever reason couldn’t leave the city limits. And I wasn’t broke. I had money. It was weird. It was like I was sleeping under hypnosis. I took a one day trip to Assilah and then was just disgusted and so I went back to Tangier and was like “Oh yes, I’m back again! Alhamduallah!” I had people offering to take me places and I just kept saying “No, no. I’m just gonna stay here.” It was weird, I couldn’t leave for three months.

 

JS: Tell me more about the sinister side of Tangier.

LS: It’s shocking… and very subtle. Everybody says Tangier Danger, and you think, “Ah it’s not a dangerous city, it’s a very safe city now.” but there’s something insidious lurking around there… a toxic, lovely flower. It’s an ancient city. Though you do see a lot of suffering. I would wake up every day and see 8 year olds running around the streets huffing bags of industrial strength pipe glue and this happens all the time.

But the city is changing a lot right now… it will be a totally different place in ten or fifteen years. The thing about Tangier is that it’s so close to Europe… you can see Spain, you know. And people want to go but they can’t get there.

 

JS: I always feel guilty for owning a passport that allows me to go to places most of my Moroccan friends will never be able to go to. Experiencing their generosity in Morocco and not being able to do the same for them unless I finance their escape to Europe.

LS: I felt that too, yeah. But I didn’t realise that difference when I first got to Morocco. I would tell Moroccans to come to America and they would be like “Huh, you have no idea, white boy. We’re never going to leave this place…”

 

JS: It’s crushing…

LS: Genetic and cultural lottery is a brutal affair. The world is not equal. Chances aren’t doled out equally which is why I get mad at the hippies sometimes. You know, I find myself in groups of hippies a hell of a lot and they’re always like “Oh, you can manifest your destiny. Everybody has the same chances.” And after being in Morocco I realised that no, you don’t get it. It’s a privilege to have dreams, chances and choices and manifest that. To put your thoughts into reality. Peoples dreams here in Morocco is to open a restaurant so they can feed their children. Most of them are not thinking of writing or painting or whatever.

 

JS: What about Morocco? What are your impressions of this country?

LS: I’ve experienced more random acts of hospitality and generosity in this country than I have probably in every other country combined.

 

JS: I challenge you to go to Lebanon. Because you’ll experience the same level of hospitability. It’s sophisticated like Europe, but with Moroccan hospitality and a human feel. So, it’s the best of both worlds, really. Well, it’s fucked, it’s expensive and it’s corrupted, but seriously worth visiting for its wonderful people and their remarkable humanity.

LS: I believe it. I’m struck every time I jump back to the western world how cold people are and how concerned and worried and afraid of each other they are. Moroccans aren’t afraid of each other. They’re not afraid of you either. They might try to hustle you. But I’ve experienced a warmth and generosity here that has totally changed my understanding of being human on planet earth. It really opened me up, I was extremely cynical before.

That being said, there’s a lot of cons and a lot of hustles and it can be very exhausting being a foreigner here for a long period of time. Because everyone wants to know who you are, everyone wants to shake your hand, or blurt something out at you. Moroccans have a different understanding of personal space than westerners do.

 

JS: Morocco is a messed up country but in a cute way. I mean, it’s so forgiving in so many aspects that you would never experience in Europe. In Europe you could never get away with so many things you just improvise on the spot in Morocco because everyone is willing to help you out. They’re all connected.

LS: Yeah, they’re all connected and everybody wants to help. It’s really convenient too. Like, you can just go and buy a handful of peanuts anytime, you’re almost always less than five minutes away from a handful of peanuts or almonds. I love this. And you don’t really need to plan in Morocco. Everything is right there. A hotel costs 5 dollars to check in… the layouts of the cites, especially the old parts are meant for human traffic not automobiles. You can take a taxi for a dollar or two to get where you need to.

 

JS: And when there’s no hotel and everyone knows about it, they’ll just open the door and you can sleep on their couch.

LS: Yes, and they’ll feed you. I’m telling you, the hospitality in Morocco is amazing.

 

JS: Yes, it’s almost like Moroccans invented Couchsurfing avant la lettre.

LS: And they’re still doing it and not making a profit.

 

JS: Well, some of them are.

LS: Yeah, I guess you’re right.

 

JS: What about romance in Morocco?

LS: Didn’t exist for me. Non-existent. Totally drove me crazy.

 

JS: Tinder?

LS: I don’t believe in Tinder. Tinder’s crazy. Tinder disgusts me.

 

JS: So how does one get laid in Morocco?

LS: You pay for it. Well, or maybe this was not on my mind. And for the first year I was really wary about being culturally appropriate that I kind of lost myself and forgot my own culture and got stepped on a lot. Yeah, there was not a lot of romance, man… And I noticed that almost every time I was alone with a Moroccan woman in a café the waiter would come up and say “Hey, you guys should get married!” I mean, I found that if I was flirting with a Muslim woman in the street, people would glare at me.

People say that Tangier is liberated but there’s only a few safe zones where men and women can interact and not have the whole street stare at them… it’s an awareness that you can sense. Because everybody is always watching in Morocco. There are no security cameras in this country because everyone is watching and telling their neighbour.

Photo: João Sousa

JS: So, no sex. What does that do to a young man in this country?

LS: Yeah, it’s not healthy, man! I mean, I came here to write a book, so I smoked forty cigarettes a day to keep my cock shut up, in order to kill my sex drive with all that nicotine. But yeah, it’s not good for young men to go that long without sex. So, when I was getting back to Paris and meeting up with a girlfriend I had back then she would see me and laugh and say “You look like a soldier who’s on vacation!”, and I would be like “Yeah, baby, you look especially good after not seeing a woman for I don’t know how long because I’ve been sitting in cafes with old men smoking cigarettes.”

 

JS: Is that a reverse cultural shock in its own right, seeing and interacting with women in a way that is very different from here?

LS: Yeah, I always notice that when I jump back to Europe. The way women dress. And the way men interact with women, which is just casual and normal.

 

JS: And now you’re about to head back to the States. Why?

LS: Well, I need to make some money and there’s money to be made in America somehow, someway — especially if you’re a white man. I really do not want to be broke in Morocco again. Also, there are friends I want to see who I haven’t seen for over a year now. I am extremely fortunate in that I know some very amazing people… but the thing here is Morocco is really seductive that you can just let life drift by in here. It was a good place to be in cafes and write, but I need some new influences now.

The western world is good to put your ass into gear and get things done. I feel I need this now. Part of the reason why I stayed here so long is that Morocco is aesthetically gorgeous, and I wanted to learn French. I mean, it’s a dump, which I like. It’s very gritty and dirty, which struck me as more honest or accurate to life than how sterile everything is in the States. Life is a bit messy sometimes. Especially Tangier has kind of a ruined glory about it. You can walk into any random café, bar or hammam and look up at the ceiling and it’s the most beautiful arabesque work you’ve seen. There are these fine touches of beauty everywhere. You can tell that at one point Arab civilisation was immensely advanced and ahead of the rest of the world. So Morocco is gorgeous architecturally… and America is not.

 

JS: Are you afraid of the intensity of reverse cultural shocks you’ll experience when returning to the States after Morocco?

LS: Well, I remember last time I returned to America after spending a year in Morocco. I coped by listening to Bowie’s song I’m Afraid of Americans for a week straight and smoking joints in a house in Oakland, trying to come to grips with it. I don’t think that helped… I have no idea how it’s going to be now. Probably easier.

 

JS: With Trump as President, do you think you’ll encounter a different country from the one you saw last time you were there?

LS: Hum… I am different so the country will seem different to me regardless. Who knows, maybe I’ll love it? But nowadays it’s probably a more obviously disturbing America… the populace kind of woke up a bit. It’s a country going through intense growing pains… The secret is out that it’s not the land of liberty and equality that was advertised. But I only hear impressions from friends and my sister, or whatever pops up through Facebook, so I don’t actually know. But I was aware of this when I was 12. The country looked like 1984 when I was 12 and now everyone is reading 1984. So for me America always looked disturbing, damaged and bizarre. It’s a culture of distraction, fear and consumerism that people are trying to wake up out of. Equal rights are a joke. The police force has obscene liberties and the military budget and buffoonery is horrifying. The prison populace is enormous, I mean that’s just a start there… Nobody has any time because everybody is busy busting their ass to buy food with chemicals in it or paying exorbitant prices for food without chemicals.

There’s always a balance of beauty and bullshit in every country, it depends on what you’re looking at. There are some fantastic things happening there too, maybe I’ll see more of that when I go back, I don’t know. I have never been politically active, I only have a few observations and memories from America and what foolishness I’ve seen on the net here… There’s a lot of fearmongering and bullshitting happening… borders are getting tighter, people more paranoid and afraid of one another… this should be countered. But I’m a bit of an idealist.

 

JS: We seem to be slow to respond in part because of social media. We switched off our TV so we don’t get that fearmongering shit from the news but we’re definitely getting it from social media. And when we see Trump doing something, we simply rant. But that’s not doing anything. That’s just describing the water while everyone drowns.

LS: Yeah. Well, people like to complain. We do. We love it. And social media is giving us all a public forum for complaints, for self-advertising, the narration of our lives, for exchange of information, transparency, public dialogues with people from every corner of the globe at the same time… it’s very interesting. A potent tool but also a double-edged sword.

 

JS: And this is all still new to most of us. We’re in part guinea pigs of what social media is.

LS: We’re collectively in the transition between the analogue and digital.

 

JS: I wish I didn’t spend so much time on social media.

LS: Balance it, man. Look at what void inside of yourself social media is filling and try and put something else in there. Like photography. I’m gonna have to put a musical instrument, or a yoga practice in there because I can’t just write all the time.

I’ve been listening to this group called Tinariwen, and they sing like they know they’re going to die. Like they’ve looked at death, they’ve seen it and they walked a chunk of the desert and haven’t seen another person for a long time. That must necessarily change something in you in a way. Because solitude is not acceptable in our day and age. But I believe a thorough exploration of solitude is really important for a period of time, especially when you’re young.

 

JS: No one’s alone anymore.

LS: So it goes.

 

Leo is currently in the confusing and tedious process of tracking down a literary agent and publishing houses. More to follow. In the meantime, contact him on homesteaddelumiere@gmail.com