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I have a couple of cousins who I’m not in touch with. I think I communicate really well in English, sometimes better than Farsi.
I cut my communication with them a very long time ago because I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble. If they were going after anyone, wouldn’t it make sense to go after me? But most of my Iranian writer friends don’t have that luxury.
For me, writing became synonymous with “Confess your sins.” If the guards found smuggled pens or in your belongings, you could get into serious trouble. That is when I began to go back to my roots and started writing again, not to get published, but to express myself in some way. After that, I realized that my passion was writing fiction.
I recently finished an early draft of my third book, which is historical fiction.
I just sent it to my publisher, so I’m waiting for them to respond.
When you published , were you concerned that it would have consequences for friends and family in Iran? First of all, I don’t have a lot of family left in Iran.
George Simenon said, “Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.” Considering the circumstances in which you started writing, what do you think about that? Writing is not a profession; it doesn’t pay the bills. You can probably take both my arms because I can still type with a voice recognition software. If you took that out of my day, all that would be left would be a corpse.I said to her, “This is a math class not a propaganda class, so could you just teach math? I was in Evin Prison, and the only place you could write was the interrogation room. I was psychologically and physically damaged, and if someone had handed me a pen and paper and told me to write anything I would have felt like I was holding a grenade. I joined simply because I wanted to fit in, but it did make me go back to writing.” She filed a report saying that I had stepped out of line, and I was arrested and put in jail. They would ask you questions, give you a pen and paper and say, “Write your answers.” They would beat you if you didn’t, or if they didn’t like your answers. I started having psychotic episodes from PTSD, and I had to respond to the trauma that was still buried in me.Again, it is an exploration of my own issues, of my own desires, of my own wants.I personally believe that is the most honest form of writing.