Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I got a letter from a friend who has doubts about whether to continue writing and sharing her thoughts. The following is my response.

Letter To A Fellow Writer


Sorry to hear you are in that dark place. You are not alone, but as has often been said, we ARE all unique, and we are ALL the same. I think it's a yes/and, not an either/or proposition.

When I first started writing again, after years of being afraid to do so, I found that it gave me my only relief, from the voices in my head. It was, and remains, an act of survival, my way of spitting in death's eye. No one benefits if I return to a world of insanity the realm of secret shame. At least a few people may benefit, if I manage to hang around. If I want to be alive, writing is not an option, anymore than breathing is an option.

I think Alice Walker, (The Color Purple), said it best:
"Some people say, they live to write. I write to live."

Who knows what others think of my writing? Some folks hate it, a few like it, and, sadly (boo-hoo), most people don't know about my writing, and would not even care if they did. So be it. I will write anyhow. I will write to live, and for those who love me.

When I write with other people in mind, I don't like what I write. When I write to clear the dirty little shelves, in the back of my mind, it feels like I am taking dictation--floating free of space and time. I am awake. I am alive. The experience is the perfect counterbalance, to the stifling fear that can come, when I lose focus, when I mistake others' opinions as reality.

In one sense, I think writing is the most selfish, prideful thing I do. Yet, I know that honest writing touches people deeply. Several people have told me, they loved my book. One, would have been enough.

I find that it helps, if I detach from how I think people will react to what I write. I wrote the following, in the introduction to my book, to help clarify my dilemma to myself others:

"This book is true, yet it is fiction. It is an honest account of my perception of events. However, my perception is colored by my bipolar illness. I have had many instances of auditory and visual hallucinations. At times, these are so strong that they are just as tangible as the so-called real world.

This conflict between my hallucinatory (or so I am told) world and the real world is at the heart of my dilemma or illness. It raises a fundamental question. Should I share my life as I perceive it, or should I only share the version that fits others’ perceptions? If I share what I perceive, my book is fiction in the “real” world. If I share only what others perceive, then my sharing is a fiction to me. I have chosen to be true to my perceptions. Therefore, my book is fictional for all readers other than me and I have classified it as fiction rather than autobiography."

Please DO continue writing. I, and your other friends, want to hear your story. Screw the voices in your head, tell them to shut the fuck up, and let the rest of us hear what you have to say. Who gave the voices license to deny us? Write to us, your friends. Imagine our faces before you as you stare at the page, or screen. We are more real, much more connected to reality, than the negative chatter in your head.

So, to paraphrase the old 60's phrase: “Power to the people (you), power to the people (you), right (write) on.”

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