â€œYou must be so excited about your book coming out,â€ people say, and of course I say yes. Because yes. Because itâ€™s amazing. Hereâ€™s this book I wrote, and itâ€™s being published, and then thereâ€™s me getting to say hello, Iâ€™m an author, for I have written a book and these nice people have put it into covers. You guys, itâ€™s the dream Iâ€™ve had the longest, itâ€™s the biggest dream Iâ€™ve ever had, and look at this, look at how itâ€™s coming true. My faith that Iâ€™ll see my name lasered into the side of the moon one day has been renewed.
But hereâ€™s me feeling like an ungrateful ass because sometimesâ€”oftenâ€”frequentlyâ€”I want to take it back. I want to say no, never mind, I just realized what it is Iâ€™ve done and how completely nuts it is. I dislikeâ€”very, very strongly dislikeâ€”this oily rolling feeling in my stomach when I think about how I have gone and written a book entirely about myself, and I am asking people to read it. I am asking people to like it. Because a memoir is like a book-length persuasive argument. I am, essentially, presenting a case for myself: This is who I am, and I hope you understand it. And I hope you like it. And I hope you like me.
Dear god what have I done.
Obviously, clearly, I thought the book was worth writing. Clearly I thought I had something to say and something I wanted other people to read, since I wrote the damn thing. No one twisted my arm up behind my back and hauled me up on my tiptoes, hissing write the book. I am sorry to report that not a single villain held a tiny spear gun to my goldfishâ€™s head and snarled â€œFind an agent or Bishop Desmond Tutu gets it.â€ In the middle of the night a masked individual did not hang suspended from the ceiling over my bed, holding the very tip of a taser only centimeters from my eye, and whisper, â€œYou better be signing that book contract.â€
I charged gleefully toward every single step and every single goal and milestone. I said Yes and yes and yes and I knew what I was agreeing to, in theory. A book, right? Woo! Books! My name on the cover! I am totally going to my high school reunion or something! But oh I am so good at pushing actual facts and consequences aside. I am terribly gifted at pretending the future doesnâ€™t exist because now is just so goddamn awesome. I do know I never sat down and seriously considered the reality of what I was agreeing to.
Itâ€™s harder to forget when Iâ€™m looking at the book all laid outâ€”itâ€™s a real thing. It will be held. It will be opened. Maybe someone will even read it! Jesus Christ.
And if I am lucky enough to get reviews, I will not read a single thing anyone writes about it. Me. My choices. Or my prose, my narrative structure, my pacing, my characterization, my clear and painful cluelessness, my persistent silliness. â€œWeâ€™ll read you the good ones,â€ friends say, and I donâ€™t want the good ones. I mean, I kind of do. But I think the safest thing is just to have it exist in the world and have people thinking all things about it, all they want, and me just figuring itâ€™s all going to be okay in the end, the way I do, and hope people understand what I tried to make.
Itâ€™s how anyone manages to do anything in this world, I think. You believe (or fool yourself into believing) that what you say is worth saying, and what you do is worthwhile, and who you are could change someone’s life.