How serious am I about this writing stuff?
When I got sick 5 years ago, and the prospect of death was suddenly real, I became obsessed with discovering my story.
Who was I? What did I want to accomplish in life? Can I find meaning in my suffering? Does my illness ostracize me or does it humanize me?
Writing about yourself is tricky business. How much of my private life do I make public? What if I say too much and hurt the people I love? What if I hold back and fail to write truthfully? Is what I’m doing selfish, egotistical or am a writing from a real place and consequently, bringing clarity and comfort to myself and others?
I have two distinct memories from high school. The first, is when I saw my future wife standing in a classroom doorway, as if by placing her there, God was saying, “Ready or not kid, this is where your life begins.”
And the second, I am sitting in a 9th grade English class and I’m assigned to write a letter from the perspective of an innocent woman accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials.
So I go home, write this beautiful fucking letter, turn it in, my teacher grades it, give my an A, tells me that I have real potential and I should keep writing and before I can digest her praise the kid sitting behind me calls me a fag and the boys around me laugh and something inside me breaks and for a long me, to hide my shame, I identified writing as something real men don’t do.
And then, after nearly twenty years, I finally braved-up, began writing in an attempt to save that 14 year old kid.
The kid who is sitting scared in a wooden desk. A kid who knows he’s meant to write but, like most of us, is afraid to do the thing that we’re suppose to. The kid who pushed writing away for nearly 20 years until he learned that life is finite. Second chances are precious. The time to do the work you were meant to do is fleeting. And that if you didn’t write about all the joy and pain, curiosity and confusion that boil inside, you would grow old and bitter toward himself, toward others.
So how serious am I about this writing stuff?
A 14 year old kid’s life depends on it.