I am very fortunate to have friends willing to read my first and final drafts. There’s not a day that goes by that I doubt that good fortune. Reading someone’s writing, particularly if they are a good and trusted friend, can be difficult. It can be downright tricky trudging through the guts and temporary glory bled all over a page, especially if the writer’s public voice doesn’t really match up with that raspy, mournful (sometimes murderous) drawl put to use in autobiographical poems and essays.
Imagined distance and imagined complexity, the worst secrets and shames… my reading friends are now aware of it all. I could have continued with fiction, I could have denied the craving for raw honesty in print. That’s the choice I wrestled with for a long time, at least. Truth is, I couldn’t. Truth is, in a few days it will all be out there and I don’t know what will become of it—all my truth-telling. Maybe nothing more than a few accidental readers—outside my small circle of friends—will ever wonder why I thought it so important to try to be a writer. Maybe they’ll dedicate some time to wondering why I thought anyone would care.
Here’s what I knew: I spent half my life feeling responsible for a disappointing, insecure childhood, and equally disappointing and insecure young adult years. Someone should have stood up and took the blame, but I gave up on the possibility of anyone being brave enough or honest enough to do more than watch me fumble around.
Here’s what I know: Having someone to blame doesn’t solve anything, and leaving all that raw honesty stored up in a cool dark place couldn’t solve anything.
In hopes of solving things I broadened my perspective, I looked beyond this narrow little corner of the world then circled back to take a long look at my middle-aged face. Nothing was there on the surface, so, I flayed myself open to get to answers that might make my future better. I poked around in the past, dissected the present, never gaining a clear picture of the future. But I think I figured out the best way to handle all that confusing mess of truth, of questions without answers.
I only have one answer: I am a writer.