And doesn’t all writing begin with reading? My gateway drug was Little Women, which I read twenty-seven times between the age of eight and eighteen. In real-life my temperament drifted towards the mild-mannered home-body, Meg but that didn’t stop me from going back again and again looking for a wormhole I could slip through. I really, reeeallly wanted to be Jo instead.
Yes, I am deliberate and I do not give up easily.
In 1974 my grandfather gave me, for my birthday, a diary: He can see me. I am introverted and need my secrets. Twelve days later, Dad caught Billy Neighbor reading said diary. Billy Neighbor caught hell. Dad collared and dragged him, protesting innocence, from atop their family’s garage. His voice was quietly threatening as he alternately shook Billy and waved my diary in his face.
I couldn’t hear what was said, but the lesson was clear: We do not read each other’s diaries.
In 1980 I failed my advanced English composition final: In my world reading is a tool. So is writing. I wrote and wrote and told my teacher everything I read about psychoanalysis and dreams in three weeks of concentrated, teenage, reading around. Strangely, she expected a coherent essay.
Sigmund Freud was a great scholar who wrote about confusing things in a, for teenagers, confusing way: I am not Sigmund Freud but when I am using my tools, I sometimes write about confusing things in a confusing way.
Beyond that, I am a woman. I believe in the shining fluidity of perspective. I believe everyone knows something important and every writer has an audience. In the mid-nineties I found mine. A man, on another continent, immersed in another culture, one that prizes strangeness and chaos more than mine does. With him my writing grew honest, it grew solid ground beneath it’s feet. Then it grew wings and I flew away on them.