I had a different blog post planned for today about book covers – but it can wait. We can talk about book covers any time. And we will!
I have written and published a number of essays since 2006. By essays I mean creative non-fiction. The truth. I did not start writing fiction until sometime around 2007 or 2008. Last week I decided to reestablish my connection with the Huffington Post. I blogged a bit for them back in 2008-2009 when they first launched a Chicago site. I emailed and asked for a new password, and figured this would be a good way to start, once again, writing about things other than writing. Writing some essays. Other venues popped to mind, but HuffPost would be first on my list.
So I pulled out an old essay and dusted it off. It had homes on old blogs of mine, but never garnered very much attention and those blogs are long gone. I sent it to the powers that be at HuffPost who say yes or no and decide when and where something is posted. And my story was posted on the front page of the Huffington Post Divorce Section. Seems like a funny thing to kvell over, doesn’t it?
Well, the funny part is, that AOL also picked it up and ran it on their front page. I started getting emails and texts from people who still use AOL and it’s actual website. And I started receiving emails from people I didn’t know. And notes on my author page on Facebook. People who were being kind and supportive and people who were saying they’d love to read my book when it comes out. At the time I’m typing this there are over 1200 comments on that HuffPost piece. I have only read a handful of them because it’s good practice for not reading book reviews. I would never, ever engage with commenters on a big site like Huff Post. I’m not there to argue about what happened to me almost ten years ago. Every word I wrote is true but not every bit of truth of my entire life is in one little essay.
So my thought went to momentarily feeling bad that I’d been so honest. Icky things make people uncomfortable or angry or sad. Should I be stirring up emotions in strangers? Who did I think I was? While the story was mine, did that mean I had the right to share it?
I then remembered this:
And then I got a grip on reality.
I have a book coming out this Spring – and although it’s fiction – the seedling of the story was born in truth. I am not my main character nor do I have her problems – but it’s still honest in the sense that emotional truths come through in a happy scene or sad scene because an author can remember feeling or seeing something happy or sad. Or something sickening or startling or funny or poignant.
And, I am thrilled to say, since my book will be available everywhere books are sold, this “having everyone able to see what the hell I’ve written” is probably something I should get used to.
I remembered today — if we are ones meant to write our stories — the real ones or the make believe ones — we must write them loud and real. Write them big and full and explosive and relentless. Write them sad and scratchy and smelly and bleeding. Write the truth for yourself or the truth for your characters.
You owe it to your readers — and yourself.
If you want to read my story on Huffington Post, you can find it here.