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Bradley senior draws from insomnia, music and life experiences for short story collection

Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.

For some, that adage rings true – that last bar you shouldn’t have entered, the greasy burger you ate or the drowsy e-mail you sent.

Senior Wassim Elhouar is the exception to the rule.

Last September, when hit with bouts of insomnia, Elhouar didn’t turn on the TV or fire up video games. Instead, he let his ideas flow into short stories, stories that eventually turned into his debut book “I Know What I Know Now.”

“I wrote two stories within an hour and a half,” Elhouar said. “Before that, I never thought I would write a book.”

Throughout the course of last semester, he chipped away at a collection of short stories. While he still wrote during the semester, classes and work slowed down the process.

“By the time I got home, done with my homework and everything, I was too tired and burned-out to really write,” he said.

Still, he would often come up with ideas and estimates that roughly half the book was finished during the semester, the other during Winter Break.

The book took about four months to complete, and Elhouar didn’t have much short story experience before, only writing one story years before he actually wrote the book.

Thanks to the Internet, his book became a worldwide effort. Friends in Michigan, California and at Illinois State helped edit, and the cover art was from a woman in Japan.

“I was searching through Flickr one day and came across this artwork that was a good representation of the book,” he said.

After it was all done, his writing future looked bleak.

“I told myself to never do this again,” Elhouar said.

But after about a month break, he was back at it.

“I already started working on the next one, but don’t expect it anytime soon.”

Besides insomnia, Elhouar drew inspiration from different sources, each adding to his writing style, something he categorizes as relatable.

“I think I’m a good writer because of life experiences,” he said. “It’s more than classes or what you are taught. I’m a waiter and I could draw a lot from that.”

Another inspiration is music, which is reflected in his book. The last few pages contain the names of albums and songs he listened to during the process.

“Whenever I meet an author, the first thing I ask is what music they listen to.”

As far as his future in writing, Elhouar likes the short story format.

“It’s long enough that there’s depth and value but the reader doesn’t lose interest,” he said. “Right now, I can’t think of any ideas to stretch [for a novel] without filler. I might do a novella, though.”

For those in need of a reason to pick up the collection, to Elhouar, a sense of community is a good one, encouraging people to support a Bradley author.

As a college student, he covers topics many also experience.

“There’s stuff in there that others can relate to, like music or relationships.”

Fellow aspiring authors looking to follow in Elhouar’s self-published footsteps, he offers some advice.

“Get out there and do it,” he said. “You’re better off reading your favorite stuff and writing. Write a lot, read a lot, just live life.”

If fear of haters is holding you back, Elhouar suggests a more glass-half-full thinking.

“People might hate it, but they might love it too,” he said. “You can’t forget about the other 50 percent.”


To buy “I Know What I Know Now,” contact Wassim Elhouar at Visit his Facebook page “Wassim is a Writer” for updates on the book, purchasing information and more. 

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