• Essays & Articles
  • My Autobiographical Novel:
    Waking From Innocent Dreams
    (2016 – Present)

    w: Nelson/Roberto

    My Autobiographical Novel:
    Waking From Innocent Dreams
    (2016 – Present)

    In October of 2015, I was sitting at my kitchen table when I wrote a few words that I felt perfectly described the complicated relationship that had developed with my birth father. I had first met him almost 20 years earlier when two human rights organization, Physicians for Human Rights and Association Pro-Busqueda, helped reunite us. Growing up I had always known I was adopted, but my adoptive parents were unable to tell me about the circumstances that lead up to my adoption. From the two organizations, I learned that I had been separated from my family during El Salvador’s civil war and my father had never laid eyes on me as a baby. So in December of 1997, I had flown down to Costa Rica and met 30 to 40 of my family members for the first time.

    Over the following years, I traveled to Central America one or two times a year. During this period I got to know and became very close with my birth family. We attended each other’s graduations, celebrated birthdays together, and even built a business. However, by 2015 my relationship with my birth father had become strained, and we were no longer on speaking terms. Looking for a way to deal with the difficult emotions I was wrestling with I turned to writing.

    One morning while flipping through photos of I had taken of my birth father in 2011 I found two images that I felt perfectly captured his essence.

    Using the photographs as inspiration, I wrote:

    The more I learn about my father, the more I feel like these two images perfectly capture his essence. A family man who is capability a great love and kindness, but also struggles with the demons of his past, which threatens to consume him. Perhaps this is what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant when he said, “A man is a god in ruins.”

    As I stared down at what I had just written I began to cry, the words paired with the two photographs had struck a nerve. Unsure what to do with my creation I thought about posting it on Instagram, but quickly realized that it was impossible to understand the weight of these words without knowing the whole story. I felt it was almost unfair to dump these words on the internet without some deeper explanation. So without really knowing what would come out of it, I began writing.

    Initially, I planned to write the story as a series of blog posts, that I would share on this site. At the time, I had been reading a book called The Story Grid, as part of the work I was doing for my documentary film, and I wanted to apply some of its concepts to my posts. The work was slow and tedious, but eventually, I began to make progress. After six months I had written 19 posts and over 21,000 words. I took a step back and analyzed the posts using The Story Gird methodology. Almost immediately I realized that I had the basis for a novel and that I still had a lot more to write.

    So between September 2016 and December 2016, I wrote almost every day for 94 days straight and turned my 19 blog posts into a 58 scene novel, with 25 chapters and just over 50,000 words. Creatively exhausted from the effort, I took a few months off before running the writing through The Story Grid once more in the spring of 2017. Working on the novel also had an unintentional consequence for my documentary film. As I got better at writing the book, my writing for the film also improved. Now both projects are getting closer to being completed, and I look forward to sharing them when they are finished.

    I’ve still got a few more months of writing to do before the novel is ready to share, but you can read Chapter I: Reunion on my blog. If you would like to receive updates about my book you can sign up for email updates using the form below.

    665 words


    Nelson/RobertoSeparated from my family during El Salvador's civil war, by death and adoption, I was reunited with them at the age of 16. I do entrepreneurial art projects that are meaningful, relevant, and push me creatively.

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    Adventures in Web Hosting:
    (2016 – Present)

    Helping Families Reunite:
    The Mama Chila Foundation
    (2015 – Present)

    Adventures In Podcasting:
    Inside the Journey
    (2013 – 2016)

    Get updates about the release of my upcoming book, Waking From Innocent Dreams.

    © Legend - A Handcrafted Misfit Theme



    My name is Nelson de Witt, but I was born Roberto Coto. Separated from my birth family during El Salvador’s civil war, by death and adoption, I was reunited with them at the age of 16.

    I’m a jack of all trades that has done everything from business process design to video production to server administration to film photography. I’ve run, consulted on, and wrote a book about Crowdfunding campaigns. I’ve taught myself everything from Ruby on Rails to narrative story structure.

    What do all these things have in common?

    I’m a skilled problem solver who can tackle complex issues and find solutions that combine art with outcomes.

    20 Years Ago Today

    Chapter I: Reunion

    Ana & Isabel’s Reunion

    Misfit Con: A Home for Dreams, Doers, and Makers

    Why you should support (and share) your friend’s work.

    You are not a failure…

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