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It’s been a little over two years since I started writing Darkness for sale. It was an idea born out of a mixture of frustration, dreams, and a sense of who gives a fuck. I didn’t have that much to lose but, as it turned out, quite a lot to say. Writing became a hobby that fueled my desire to get out of darkness and help or prevent other people from getting stuck in the same dark place I was in. one hundred and eighty-four English pages and two hundred and four Dutch pages later, my book was finally a reality and one of the few things in my life that was fully mine. Through sheer stubbornness, delusional ideas, or a genius game plan I had decided that Darkness for sale was going to be a one-man effort. No publisher telling me what I should change (even though that might have made it better), no designer who translates my words into a cover (even though it might have looked nicer), and no editor to clean up my mistakes and sloppiness (that might have been a bad call but more on that in a later post). It was just me, mine, and mine alone.

For someone who lives a life that is filled with owing people (be it money, time, or responsibilities) it was very nice to experience this sense of independence and ownership. The success, the failure, the good, the bad, the perfect, and the sloppy. It’s all mine. Beyond the feeling of claiming a piece of life as my own, I got something else out of it that proved to be far more valuable. Pride and closure.

I can not express how proud I am of my book. Mainly because I don’t think it is similar to the pride other ‘authors’ get from publishing a book. I don’t think my book is a 10 out of 10, I don’t think it’s the best thing ever written, and I definitely don’t think that it can not be improved upon. The pride I derive from this book is that I fucking did it. Almost everyone has, at one point or another, decided that they should write a book about something. A novel, thriller, business management book, or a autobiography. So many people, so many potential writers yet, in comparison, so few books finished. Most of those people are actually doing fine in life. They have a bit of cash, a job, a partner, a decent house, and a general feeling of happiness on a day-to-day basis.

No book though.

On the other side of that coin is me. Sat in a fucked-up house I can’t afford, silently hating myself hours on end and genuine difficulties with finding the strength to get out of the shower sometimes. But I persevered, followed through, and did what I set out to do. In such a fucking hard time. But it’s here now. Flawed, rushed, odd, sloppy, and amateuristic? Maybe. Real, honest, finished, touchable, and ready to order? Hell fucking yes.

I proved to myself that I am able to do something if I set my mind to it. Actually, fuck that, I proved to myself that I am able to do something.

I would call that a smashing fucking slam dunk homerun. I had a finish line in sight and I crossed it on strength and willpower alone. That makes me feel proud, gives me some closure on certain parts of my life and feels like fuckin’ success.

Interestingly enough, one of my success metrics I mentioned in the book was in regard to me being a writer. I would be comfortable with calling myself a writer if I could sell one copy to a stranger who had no clue who I was. Well, I did that, it was actually my first copy I ever sold, but I honestly don’t want to call myself a writer today. Not because I don’t believe in my book, not because I want to undersell my achievement or because I want to hide from it, but because I’ve spent so much time in my life trying to define myself as something or other and I’ve finally realized that I don’t want to be a something or a someone, I want to be me.

In the very early stages of writing the book I met a pretty girl in a bar and, in a smooth attempt to seem interesting and distract for my lack of employment, I mentioned writing a book. She was interested in the subject and I sent her the first couple of chapters I had written. The feedback was generally positive about the writing, but she also mentioned that she felt kind of sorry for me. A few texts later it was also the last time we spoke. Now this threw me for a loop for a bit. Subconsciously I think I was convinced that deeply introspective and edgy writers are considered to be sexy and desirable, not someone you take pity on and swipe left after reading their stuff. The intention was never to become this sort of writer, but it did surprise me when I was, at the very least, surprised that my honesty in my writing shattered the illusion of my reality. And thank the fuckin non-existing god for that because it made me realize that I did not want to write something pretty, perfect, or enhanced. I wanted to write something honest, true, murky, dark, muddy, and real. My life, my story, my book.

I am convinced that I succeeded in that. This book, my book, is fully me. Just as much as it is mine.

In a twisted version of life, it might even be more me than I am me. Life did not get solved after placing the final period. In fact, it became a bit of a cruel ironic test of strength and faith in my own beliefs and opinions that I had so honestly jotted down on my pages. I’m still struggling with darkness, money and achievements and it will take a lot more time before I can get over it all. The sales from the book might help or they might not, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter.

The ‘writer’ Joël Azulay has done what he set out to do. Two years ago, he sat down to write a book and now that book physically exists. The ‘publisher’ Joël Azulay still has a lot of work ahead of him and is not sure if he will succeed, but he will give it his all.

I am not one of those Joël’s. I am both and so much more.

I am dark but I am also strong enough to fight it. I am scared but I am also brave enough to face my fears. I am exhausted but I am also motivated to keep on going.

I used to be this, I used to be that, but now, I am I. And I am me.

And I wrote a book.