Composing Temple Sunrise: Overcoming Writer's Block at Burning Man is an inspirational coming-of-age memoir about a 26-year-old songwriter looking to refuel his creative energy. Trigged by the Great Recession of 2008, Hassan El-Tayyab loses his Special Education teaching job in Boston and sets out on a cross-country adventure with a woman named Hope Rideout, determined to find his lost muse. His journey brings him to Berkeley, CA, where he befriends a female metal art collective constructive a 37-foot Burning Man art sculpture named "Fishbug." What follows is a life-changing odyssey through Burning Man that helps Hassan harness his creative spirit, overcome his self-critic, confront his childhood trauma, and realize the healing power of musical expression. 


Why I wrote this book

The book started as a blog about my cross-country road trip and evolved into a 200-page memoir. It helped me work through depression and all the triggers I’d been stumbling over for a long time. It also helped me understand the complex emotions I had from growing up without my father, racism endured due to my Arab roots, and much more. I have shared quite a lot about myself in this book that until now I've kept bottled up inside. If nothing else, this has been one of the most liberating things I've ever done. So much can happen in our lives that it’s easy to get caught up and not take the time to examine life events closely. Through my memoir, I was able to take a step back and piece together the narrative of my life. 

My initial goals with this book were to tell my story honestly and to examine my own creative process. I had a mantra I kept repeating when I was in doubt about the many things other authors do. I told myself, “Start with the truth.” I feel I have done that to the best of my ability. My post-writing and publishing goal has a similar purpose. I want to use my story to help others overcome creative and spiritual blocks of their own. I know first hand how being spiritually and creatively stuck can be annoying on a good day, and life-threatening on a bad one. Having lived through such a deep block I feel extremely empathetic to people who are stuck. I wish for my story to start a new dialogue about creativity and to offer hope to anyone who is blocked in order to help them feel less alone in their struggle.



This book did not happen in a vacuum. Like most authors, I got help. First and foremost, I want to thank Jess Hobbs, Rebecca Anders, the Fishbug Crew, and the Flux Foundation. Without their love, support, creativity, openness, passion, and dedication this book could have never happened. Their energy has ignited a fire in me that’s been burning since I got to the Bay Area. In addition, I need to thank the many people who took time to help with the editing of the manuscript. I was not a writer of anything much beyond a four minute song at the beginning of this five year process. I learned how to write prose the hard way! Over the past five years I’ve been getting my literary butt whooped by some amazing editors. Big thanks to my all-star editors Faith AdieleDavid Colin CarrMarisa Belger, and Kayli De Saussure. I can’t say enough about how important your guidance was for my development as a writer. In addition, I want to thank all my close friends, family, bandmates and the people that have been supporting my music career with American Nomad since I got to the Bay Area. Love you all!


About the Temple at Burning Man

The Temple at Burning Man is an amazing structure. It’s a place where everyone at Burning Man goes to write stories about what they need to let go of. At the end of the week-long event, tens of thousands of people sit around the sculpture in near silence and watch it burn to the ground. This to me is the definition of catharsis. The Temple at Burning Man in 2009 was a huge part of my story and eventually became my song's namesake. Composing "Temple Sunrise" was what broke me free of my writer’s block and paved the way for lots spiritual growth and new music that I create on a regular basis now.

Illustration of  the 2009 Burning Man Temple by Stephanie Wong

Illustration of  the 2009 Burning Man Temple by Stephanie Wong