When we visit a body of water in childhood, we remember it as giant lake. When we visit it again we find it was only a pond. But when an airplane leaves the ground and moves further away into the sky, the lake becomes smaller, and looks like a pond. In my early childhood days, I saw the flicker on the TV; it was playing a Syrian TV series “The End of a Brave Man” adapted from the novel by the Syrian Novelist Henna Mina. I lived it bit by bit, and lived with its characters that dreamed, cried, died, hoped, failed, succeeded, hated, provoked, defied, denied, and obsessed. This was the beginning of my love with screenwriting and storytelling.
Seven years ago, I wanted to run. I put my headphones on, and I started running. I couldn’t run a full mile. I was devastated. I came back home and I cried. This pain taught me that nothing ever comes easy. The next day the pain that I experienced became a little bit less. I had improved only a tiny bit. But with time, I have transformed myself into a runner.
Over the years I learned that dreams are usually accompanied with tears – but also with hard work. For six years, I never quit running, and I never stopped dreaming. So when I knew I wanted to be a writer, I approached it the same way.
This love started at the age of seventeen through falling in love with poetry. My inspiration was the romantic Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani. His book was sitting on the couch waiting for me to pick it up. His words struck me, the beautiful and simple poetry that enchanted me and captured my emotions.
I learned that to become a good writer, I needed to sweat and sweat I did. It was the same feeling I had when I started running, a feeling of devastation, failure, and rejection. I spent hours everyday staring into the emptiness of the white pages. I learned that failure encourages reiteration, and repeated effort would help me avoid short-term victories, and think long term about writing good content, and good stories.
Even when I was exhausted from working at my full time job, I would go home, make my cup of coffee, and write for hours in a row. I became better – slightly better. I realized that as a screenwriter I could never reach perfection. I dreamt of fictitious worlds, characters, and emotions. I let the words fill the pages: diving into the characters’ worlds. I could at any second forget myself, and forget that I am writing: I was enthralled.
But I wasn’t alone for long. I remember a cup of tea I had with my seventeen-year-old nephew, Laith. I asked him, “Do you know that story of David and Goliath from the Holy Quran and the Bible?” He said no. I said, “get ready because we are making it into a movie.
We were jotting down the first ideas for the feature film Slingshot. My nephew got the role of HAKAM in the movie. Unlike the Hollywood movie The Lion King that had 25 storywriters, our tiny film Slingshot started only with two people. The love for storytelling brought a team of people from all over the world: We created a 75 minutes award-winning feature film that was a life changing experience for the people working on it.
I believe that intelligence is about being human, and being human is about being true and honest. I get inspired when I reimagine my childhood running downstairs in the old city of Amman with the lingering smell of jasmine flowers. I live and have always lived through my visual memory. Screenwriting has taught me so many things, and has shaped the way I am as a person. It took me to another level of understanding that screenwriting brings with it humility, knowing that inspiration is not enough. It requires layers of hard work, commitment, openness, focus, and resilience, and of course creativity.
Just like running. I never wanted to be a sprinter but a long distance runner. I don’t’ want to be the fastest person on the ground. I want to continue to enjoy what I do, knowing that everyday I’m giving it my best. I want to stay focused on my goal, to continue to tell good stories. I am a person who cares so much about the process, so much more than the outcome. Slow growth, love through words, and living to work on creating compelling stories through continuous and never ending improvement, lots of research, and determination.
Motaz H Matar, Serial Storyteller
Motaz’s high level of empathy and his considerate nature, makes him an important member of the group and a pleasant, inspirational and creative partner.