For a long time after I left the streets, I wondered that very question. Who am I? I was never confused about my identity, because I know I'm John Dickson. I lived so many years in the persona I created and when I left, I felt lost. The reason that was such a quandary for me, I left the bountiful life of being a PimP, with all the trimmings. The cars, Rolls Royces, DeCourville Gatsby, to ride in. Fabulous homes to live in. The jewels, clothes, money and a bevy of beautiful women, serving my every whim.
There wasn't a question as to 'why', I left the streets of plenty. I left because, I had taken on the responsibility of a beautiful daughter to take care of. When she was 6 months old, her mom met with tragedy, crack. The way I was raised, you didn't run from responsibilities, so I took full responsibility of my girl and it changed my life. There's so much misinformation about being a PimP, you might think some tragedy prompted me to leave the Game of Plenty, but there was nothing negative about being a PimP, I left.
Somehow, unbeknownst to me, after taking responsibility of my daughter, Alena, I turned into my father. All I could hear was him saying, "A man ain't worth the salt that goes in his bread, if he can't take care of his family." He definitely should know. He had 12 children with my mother and we never wanted for anything. My dad was an electronic, at Mare Island Navel Shipyard, but things were very unfair and we suffered from low income, but pops took care of us.
Feeling as I did, responsible, I felt the need to get a job and I did, but unfortunately hated every moment of it. I suffered from working until I got tired of it and by then, my daughter was 13. I was writing, but not as serious as I would get. One day, I sat her down and explained to her, how my job was killing me. She took it literally and I had to calm her down. She was upset, but after I had calmed her, I explained to her what was going on.
I told her that I hated answering to other people and I wanted to write. She had read a couple of my manuscripts and suggested I quit, and write full time. When I denied her, stating I had to take care of her, she denied it again and said I should trust myself. The one good thing about a job, I was able to afford to concentrate on my writing and be a dad, but I wasn't able to commit to writing. At one point, during the time I was working, I started seriously writing. The stories I write, are all influenced by my life in the streets, as much as they are influenced by my upbringing. I have a flare to think and speak with the jargon of the fast life, but that ability transcends any one thing I've done and encompasses them all together.
I sometimes write for you to see the complex man I am. This allows me to think as a person with a Masters Degree should think, critically, but it also allows me to be able to connect with the element of the street life I led, with authenticity. It's impressive to people who live the street life, to know someone from the streets, who have legitimate street credibility, to make it in an area that doesn't deal with illegal activities. It makes them see a different path. I believe I can use that credibility to write stories they can identify with, that don't glorify being criminal. My stories are grim and sometimes rough, but they all have a variation of the same theme; the importance of family and being a good individual.
I purposely chose the urban fiction genre, because it's in line with a goal of mine. I want the 21st century young adults, to read more. I especially want young people of color, to read more. They'll only do that, if the story is told in the correct manner. Young people today, want to feel the stories are relevant to them, and I want to connect, with whoever reads my stories.