- Who do you think you are? I mean, what makes you so special?
I ask myself these questions all the time. I imagine people asking these questions about me behind my back. So, I wanted to include them at the beginning of this Self Interview. They’re actually important questions. Even though some people would say we shouldn’t be this hard on ourselves, I think we should. I think we should come to the page, whether we’re writing the page or reading it, with a sense of urgency.
Who do we think we are? What makes us so special? Who am I in relation to others? What good can I do? What evil have I done? Where am I duplicitous in the events of this particular lifetime? And, you know, we don’t apply this to just ourselves. We apply these questions to others. It’s at the heart of empathy—who do we think they are? What makes them so special? It’s the stuff of literary transformation.
- A lot of people have had it much worse than you have. What gives you the right to write a book when there are other people with harder stories?
This is what I imagine people will say before they read my book, Narrow River, Wide Sky: A Memoir. Again, as above, it’s nothing I haven’t said to myself during the long years of writing it. The thing about memoir, though, isn’t that it’s about confession, or trauma survival, or drug addiction, or any of what literary memoirs include as scenes, as content. Those things are included, but they’re metaphors and literary devices and artistic expression. That’s the thing about literary memoir that intrigues me the most—how do we claim, use, write, and reflect on our experiences so they become more than they were, whether we make them smaller or more important upon reflection, and most urgently, how do we offer this up to others, and what can we make smaller and more important in the larger landscape of society? How do we transform our inner lives as a matter of compassion to ourselves and to be of service to others? That’s what I’m after.
To read the entire self-interview, please go to The Nervous Breakdown.