My agent has suggested that I put more of how I feel in my book about my dad. I thought I had done that. But then I realize that us Bercaws, who put brains in jars, don’t exactly wear our hearts on our sleeves.
The only word that keeps coming up for me is lonely. I was lonely growing up in the shadow of Beau. I’m even lonelier now that he has Alzheimer’s. And when he’s gone, I will drown in the Sea of Lonely.
As I grew up, Beau grew more distant. The fear of Alzheimer’s did that to him, not the actual disease. He drifted away before I ever got a firm grip on him. Now I’m left holding an empty life preserver. The one meant for me.
That’s how I feel.
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I’m no agent but here’s what I love about your style: you don’t “push”. You are poignant without being “maudlin”. You invite rather than force. You introduce people/topics/subjects/stories and sort of step aside, allowing events to unfold and the reader to come to their own conclusions. I don’t ever feel “forced” into seeing things your way, nor do I feel you tugging at my heart strings. You are real. As real as Patti Smith is real. You take a sentence to say what would take me a paragraph. I often read your writing and think “yeah man. What she said!”
Henry Rollins said “loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” Though I hate to ever think of you lonely, I also suspect that it is this aspect of your journey that makes you such a force. I can imagine that one who felt as you did in childhood would grow up having a burning desire to communicate, which you do so beautifully in your writing. I do not agree that we need to “know” how a writer feels in order to feel something ourselves. Perhaps this is a case of your agent being just as fascinated by YOU as he/she is by Beau. That’s certainly not a bad thing I would imagine, but it does add an element of “pressure”. You have an air of mystery about you that I would hate to see you “divest” (for lack of a better word.) Your mystery fits you as your skin fits you. I’ll bet most writers/artists would KILL for that kind of a thing. It seems so many feel the need to layer on “mystique” with self created airs and fascinations, forcing the reader to have to chip away affectation in search of deeper meaning. There’s none of that in your writing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s ok to save yourself for yourself. At least in my book it is. Don’t give it all away. If keeping us out of your head when it comes to certain aspects of your life feels authentic, DO THAT. We will still “feel” you. Promise.