Viewing entries tagged

A Letter to an Author: Chasing Narwhals and Saying Hello

Writers writing writers. It's a bit like bears riding bikes. It happens.

I read your book today, cover to cover.

From a writer to a writer, thank you for this.

I have always found it strange to self-identify as a “writer.” In my experience, when you tell people, "I am writer," they look at you as though you've just announced you are leaving the priesthood to track narwhals for the rest of your life.

It’s even stranger when it's the others who identify you as a writer. “I’ve been doing this since first grade,” I want to tell them. “And I won a handwriting contest in 6th grade. You won't believe what I can do on a steamy bathroom mirror and a grocery list.” (But that would be a little snotty, I realize.)

Sometimes I cannot tell whether I am the happiest girl to ever pick up a pen or if I rue the day ink was born. Nobody tells you what this world is really like. (Though I suppose I could have guessed had I paid more attention to the infinite bottle-bottom wisdom of Hemingway, Bukowski and Anais Nin.) Writers live in a suspended state of voluntary solitude, surrounded but alone. We speak to everyone and no one. The feelings, the thoughts, the experiences are ours, but we fling them out into space and onto the page, only to give them away to strangers and sometimes-acquaintences like cards at Christmas.

(Sometimes, I admit, I am tempted to run back to the mailbox to reel them in again.) “These are mine! They are special. You cannot understand.” And then there is that one stranger who sends a note in broken English reading: “You remember to people that life is wonderful” and the world makes sense again.

I read your book today, cover to cover.

You were like finding tribe. Your words transported me to the prime of my utter recklessness. When everything I said and did was a dichotomous soup of “fuck you” and “I love you,” pulling closer and pushing away, with you but somehow against you. (The royal "you," I mean.) I wrote nightly letters, odes to the secret lives of neon lights and ponderings about the first person to add chili powder to chocolate ice cream. I wrote about bouquets of wooden spoons and a master plan to make the weeping willows stop weeping. I was propelled toward paper by a treacherous muse. The kind I had no business talking to (and certainly had no business loving.)

The broken heart I could have forgiven. It’s the songs and places that bothered me the most. With enough time and thread, you can patchwork a heart back together again. I wish I could say the same for the city.

But I suspect you already know all of this. And after reading your book, I wonder if, at the end of the day, broken hearts and road trips are really all that different.

I read your book today, cover to cover.

You remembered to me that the world is wonderful.

All of this is just to say…thank you.

And hello.