Posts Tagged ‘Mohamedou Ould Slahi’

You seriously have NO excuse for not finishing your book (and neither do I)

This post may be construed as controversial. It may be construed as political. It may unnerve you, piss you off, or motivate you. Any of those responses is fine with me. The thing is, nothing gets done unless we decide to do it. Our books don’t get written, published, marketed, or distributed unless we decide to write them, publish them (or find publishers for them), market them, and distribute them (or find distributors for them). If you haven’t finished your book yet, I’m here to make a recommendation that I, myself, need to follow: GET OVER YOURSELF AND GET IT DONE!


Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba since August 4, 2002. By all accounts, he is innocent of any crimes yet he continues to wait with 121 other detainees for trials … release … death. But that’s not the remarkable part. Slahi, who now speaks four languages (Arabic, German, French, and English), learned enough English during his detainment to write a book in English about his torture experience at Gitmo. He finished the book in 2005, but because of the many murky channels of government bureaucracy that had to be negotiated, it was not published until January 20th of this year.

Publication of Guantanamo Diary was due in no small part to the tireless research and persistence of Larry Siems, a writer and human rights advocate who for many years directed the Freedom to Write Program at PEN American Center. In an NPR report from the UK’s The Guardian, Siems detailed the trail and many-layered steps that went into the publishing process of this amazing and all-too-necessary book. Here is a link to an abbreviated piece Siems published January 16 on TheGuardian.com. Siems is credited as the editor and author of the book’s introduction.

The story is harrowing, to say the least. Yet Slahi proves to be the biggest humanitarian of all, in that he says he would one day like to sit and have tea with his captors. Who among us could ever be so gracious? Read an excerpt from the book here.

Now, back to you and me. I’m guessing no one reading this right now is in government lockup. I know I’m not. I’ve got a busy life – especially right now due to a family health crisis. But who among us doesn’t have a busy life? Is that really what we’re telling ourselves and accepting as our excuse for not finishing our books? For not learning the next skill we need to market our books? For not “finding” the money to hire an expert to help us – or do it for us?

Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Larry Siems have proven, undeniably, that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I’m not here to shame you. I’m in the same boat, remember? I just want to encourage you to set aside your excuses and get your book written, published, and into your readers’ hands. Don’t they deserve to have your knowledge or story to teach them, entertain them, or inspire them?

If you still need a little push, I highly recommend you buy, borrow, or check out from the library Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. As I’ve mentioned before on this very blog, strap on your seatbelt, though, because this book is going to grab you by the throat and hold on until you’ve screamed “Uncle!”

Let’s make a pact, why don’t we? You take the next step in your publishing process TODAY and come back here and tell us about it in the COMMENTS section of this post. And I’ll do the same. Let’s compare notes and see where we end up. At least one step close to our goals, I’m guessing…

Here’s to banishing the excuses once and for all!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


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