3. Jimwamba

Poor Traits of an Artist as a Young Man: Jimwamba.

For a table of contents of the entire series, click here. 


I was looking for a followup to Steam. I wanted to ground the story in my life, take a more Kerouac approach to it. I was about to be a freshmen in college and all, and it was my time to write that pseudo-biographical coming of age story that all serious authors seemed doomed to commit to at some point.

So I came up with an idea. I knew it was a good one, because it scared the hell out of me.

A group of people agree to play a game – if one of them is tagged on the back, they must change their life in a direct, irrevocable way in the next twenty minutes. Afterward, they can tag whichever unsuspecting player they corner.

People fear change. I fear change, at times. And yet, we’re also very aware that we’re at the whim of change. You can work your whole life to build a stable and secure home only to have a natural disaster or personal tragedy demolish it all.

So what happens if we embrace that? If we revel in that?


This was Jimwamba. Written in a first person, past-tense confessional style. It was published by a small (now defunct) independent press in the UK called Flame Books. Not a vanity press, not some situation where I’m paying – it’s the other way around. When I was nineteen, I signed my first publishing deal.

For the next entry in the Poor Traits series, click here.

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