Saturday, September 16, 2006

To Kyria, In Hopes That She Will See This

...because, as much as I loathe these kinds of cheapjack “open letters,” that fact is you’ve got comments turned off in your Live Journal and my e-mail bounced back to me, and I need to tell you this somehow. The fact that you’ve gone and locked or deleted the relevant entry in your LJ would seem to make it plain that you don’t want to hear it; but I’m gonna say it anyway. And I’m gonna say this because I like you, and this book sounds like something I would one day like to read.

From what I’m seeing—following this at a remove—you don’t sound to me like someone who’s reached the end of her abilities. To me, you sound like somebody who is scared shitless, and who is rationalizing like a motherfucker because she’s afraid to dig deep and tell the truth she needs to tell.

Maybe it was out of order. Or maybe I made it all up. I didn’t tape the phone conversation. I don’t remember what happened. Do you know what that sounds like? It sounds like denial.

Maybe you’re afraid you’ll hurt somebody, or further damage an already-damaged relationship. I don’t know. I’m not good with the therapy-speak, and I think it would probably be counterproductive at this point anyway.

I do think it’s no coincidence that you’re losing your will to do this book right after getting a monster guilt-bomb e-mail from your Mom.

But, you know, the cancer is her shit to deal with; and your story is your shit to deal with. And deal with it you must. It doesn’t matter if your shit isn’t as bad as her shit: yeah, I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet, and all that stuff; but y’know, I still need some goddam shoes.

And you still need to write your book.

You’re getting close.
You wouldn’t be so scared if you weren’t getting close.

Right now, you’ve got to do the thing that scares you, and do it any way you can. Get it out. Write it as stage directions, write it as free verse, tell don’t show (e.g., “Then she says something like if I’m so smart why don’t I do it myself”), make it all up, IT DOESN’T MATTER. Obsessing over “inaccuracies” is self-sabotage. The only accuracy you need worry about is accurately conveying your emotional state—the meaning of the events is moreimportant than the events themselves.

You’re not telling THE TRUTH ABSOLUTE here; only God knows God’s Own Truth. You’re telling your story. A friend of mine who teaches memoir-writing says something pretty goofy, but also pretty true: Memoir has “me” in it. It’s not THE TRUTH ABSOLUTE, it’s a personal truth, focused through the lens of personal experience.

Don’t worry about telling the truth: just tell your truth. Your truth, as best as you can tell it, and by whatever means necessary.

The rest is a technicality. The rest is something you can cover in a two-line disclaimer that you add after the book is written.

You’ve got to do the thing that scares you, and yeah, it’s gonna suck, and yeah, you’re gonna hate yourself for a while. There are plenty of people who love you and who want to see you get through this; but don’t do it for them. Do it for you.

Because I kinda think you have to, yeah?

Why am I telling you this?

Because right now I am balls-deep in a book of my own, and I may need you to tell me the same damn thing when I choke, as I inevitably will.

Don’t give up.


Jack Fear

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