You gotta find some way to fill up your day. It may sound nice in theory to sit around all day and watch tv, like calling in sick, but to be doing it day after day will make a person suicidal. That’s why so many inmates have some creative outlet, like art, writing, or rapping. Hell, it seems like half of the big time dealers I’ve met–the ones that dealt in bricks–are writing a hood book about their experiences. And some even get published.
The first real writer I met in prison was a Cobra named Cross. The Cobras are originally a Latino gang, but in Michigan they’re mostly white boys from Flint. They’re basically the crash test dummies for bigger gangs with more clout on the yard, so are allowed to get away with a lot of scandalous behavior.
Anyways, Cross had been down for a decade and half for a meth lab and attempted murder, and had the tattoos to show for it. Every part of his from neck to toes were covered in smudged prison ink–even his ear lobes were tatted. He was the enforcer in the gang, a hitman even. Guys hired him to go fight someone they wanted off the yard, and he loved to go carry out the task.
While he had this public violent side, he’d also been an avid writer for most his bit. I read two short stories of his that’d been published, which were pretty good, and then most of a SciFi novel he’d just finished, which was alright. He was also a voracious reader, and we’d frequently exchange books.
This stark dichotomy in his personality fascinated me, and I’d pick his brain about getting published behind bars and jailing in higher levels. Like I mentioned, he was not shy to throw down, or go even further. In the higher levels, they play for keeps, so when it goes that way, it goes all the way. I feel like I can’t even talk about some of the things he told me without dry snitching.
One thing I’ve learned about writing is that not every story is mine to tell.