Why I Don't Write Books

I think Julie mentioned on her blog several weeks, if not months, ago a quote from another source that escapes my memory suggesting that everyone thinks they could write a book. Perhaps everyone could write their own story, but the trick is to write multiple books, telling multiple stories.

Sometimes my husband tells me you should write books. Or Sam will tell me you should write this down. I tell them no gently. They persist, explaining that I could use a pen-name. That no one would ever know I had told their stories. First of all, I find that hard to believe. Told with any accuracy at all, eventually people would be calling my mother. Let me assure you, nothing good would come of that! Second, I would know what I had done.

Good writing, brilliantly true writing, is like holding up a reflecting glass. Do any of us really want to look straight into a mirror of our souls, one that strips away our self-illusions? Do any of us really want others to see us the way we truly are? Strong and vulnerable, noble and petty, triumphant and pathetic? Wouldnt that be the worst betrayal?

Maybe thats why Harper Lee wrote only one book, To Kill A Mockingbird. Its a simple story, told simply. Yet the characters are so true that they stick in your mind, like memories of people you knew well a very long time ago. Lee never gave interviews, and never wrote anything again. Ever.

Maybe thats why James Joyce drank himself to death while desperately traveling abroad. Perhaps trying to stay one step ahead of the guilt? He wrote brilliant novellas, each a gem in the study of human nature. Was there ever a more pathetic Christmas party than the one in The Dead? He coldly stripped the civilized pretensions from the guests, showing them in all the horror of lives barely lived at all. Its a wonder he could sleep at night!

Many times as a child, my mother justified the cruel things she said by announcing well, its the truth. But is being The Truth reason enough to bring some things to light? Where is the love and grace in humiliating and exposing those that are in your power? Even if the victim never knows what youve done you still know that youve become the kind of person that would betray others by talking behind their backs.

And, So. I dont write books. I dont need the guilt.

Make Waves

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