We make ourselves real by telling the truth. –Thomas Merton
I’ve hung onto this like a promise, writing my way into realness.
The journey to becoming real began long ago when I was just a little girl, wiggling her way into the tiny space behind her parents’ waterbed. It was my secret hiding place. Nobody could see me. Nobody even knew that little place existed–and anyway, adults never bothered to look there; their bigness blinded them from searching the invisible, small places.
But I was small and I fit perfectly there. I escaped to my hiding place when the invasive busyness of my communal home overwhelmed my senses. I held my secret space close to my heart and never told anyone where I went. I was safe.
And now, all those dreams I used to dream while hidden away in my secret space–well, they’re coming true.
I have a book deal.
Scratch that. I have a two book deal.
Yes, it’s really happening–although I haven’t yet signed the official contract, it’s done. And I’m going to be a very real author. Of real books. Like the kind you can buy at the bookstore and stuff. Yeah. For real.
I’ve known about this for over a month now and I’m sorry, but I needed to hide away and process. (Hello, introvert). I escaped into my hidden pod and mulled over the wonder of it all. I felt destabilized, really.
I called my therapist and broke down on her couch. Is this really happening? What if it’s not really real? What if they don’t really like me? Should I just hold my breath in case it doesn’t really happen?
I keep waiting for my amazing agent to call and say it’s not real. It was just a dream. But no, it is real and I’ve even had a conversation with the kind, generous man who will be editing my book(s). He likes my writing. Better yet, he gets me. And he so very much believes in me. (Ack, I’m unaccustomed to this. I expect rejection. I don’t know how to accept acceptance).
And yet, it’s real. I’ve written my way into realness and an entire publishing board wants me. I don’t know what to do with this. I didn’t do anything the Right Way. I didn’t go to writers’ conferences (how could I? I was the mother of many children). I didn’t get a Masters degree in fine arts. I couldn’t afford fancy writing workshops.
I just blogged. I wrote my way into realness.
Six years ago I put aside my dreams of writing a novel and simply starting writing my own stories, the stories of who I was right then, right there, right now. I wrote my way into my true voice. The more I wrote, the more courageous I became. I started writing my pain. I wrote into the deep places and guess what I found? I found you.
Yes, I was broken. But I was not alone.
You were there.
You told me it was OK to be sensitive and radically honest. You wrote me emails and comments telling me how you’d found yourself in my stories. You thanked me for being real.
Thomas Merton was right: we make ourselves real by telling the truth.
I have saved all my best, true stories for my first book. I saved them for you. I’m hoping you’ll (eeek!) buy my book? And read it?
As a pre-emptive thank-you, here is a little piece of music called “Rose Garden.” It’s from the Becoming Jane soundtrack. I used this piece of music to access my deep places. This music helped me write several very difficult passages in my book. I hope it speaks to you, too.
You may be broken but you’re not alone. You are loved.