Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dear Alan, a love letter...

Earlier this week I was tired and out of ideas for something witty to write on Twitter, much less in a novel, so I decided to do what a lot of people do on Twitter and quote someone else.  I found the following quote by Anna Quindlen to which I shouted, Amen!

People have writer’s block not because they can’t write,
but because they despair of writing eloquently.

My Twitter posts also get posted on my Sara FB page, and my dear friend Alan [friends since high school, which was a long time ago], replied, "the cure: JUST WRITE! The judgmental part of your brain is wanting to get it right and its suppressing the creative side. Next time, just write me a letter... and after a few minutes the words will flow, and I'll still treasure what you wrote."

And so, Alan, I'm writing you a letter.  If we weren't so old and hadn't been friends for so long and... for several other significant reasons why not, I'd say it's a love letter.  But in reality, it is.  This is my love letter to you and to all of my friends who have shored me up when my head was going under for the third or fourth time.  To all the people who have held out a hand and said, hang on.  And I'm not just talking about writing.  I'm talking about everything, about my life.

Rare photo of me smiling.
And because this is from my year book,
Alan wrote over his face. I don't remember
him being a Black Panther, though.

1977  -   I was 17 and Alan was 16.

Some dance or another.  1977
Alan, you were there with me through high school, and whether you know it or not, you helped me survive
high school and my life at home. We both had issues we were dealing with, and being teenagers, we didn't know how to express our feelings, but being with you felt comfortable. You made me happy, and that's saying a lot for back then.  And just so I mention it.  Damn, we were skinny and beautiful back then.  Still beautiful, though, both of us.

Following in your footsteps have been many, many people. I won't name them all, because knowing me, I'd forget one of them and then hurt someone's feelings.  I hope they know who they are.  If they don't, then I've fallen down on my job.

There have been real times when I didn't want to live any longer, but I've always had someone call or reach out, and it never came to that.  

And because of all these people making calls, because of all these people holding me up, I'm now able to write. I don't write memoir, that's still too close, but I do write about what I know, about pain and worthlessness. About doing without in the midst of plenty.  About uncertainty and fear.   

About not being able to let my fear and self-doubt show.  

Most people only look at the surface. So I know that the people I call friends have fought a hard battle to get this close to me, and still many of them don't really know me.  Even my therapist got frustrated with me because I wouldn't share everything he thought I should.  As Desi [of An Untold Want / Counting Crows] says, once that door is open, I may never be able to close it again.  Of course, she says it more eloquently, but then again, this is a blog, not literary fiction. So give me an f'in' break. [sarcasm, okay, sarcasm]  

Desi does end up opening the door, but then again, I let my characters be braver and stronger than I ever was, than I am now.  I let them do all the things I wish I had done.  All the things I wish I could do.

With that said, I love you Alan, and each and every person who has ever been there for me.  And when I do become rich and famous, you can say, I knew you when you were weak and now you're strong.  

And rich.

And famous.

And owner of a private island, where only you all can come and visit.


  1. Beautifully put! And what a friend Alan is to all writers for his words of wisdom. Write like the wind, Nellie!

  2. Yes, I know about the writing of the past. Because I have a counseling degree, I know when to 'turn myself in' for help. While getting the degree, we needed to try out three different styles. Being a reality-based therapist, I tried religious-based, authoritarian, and the "let's just talk" styles. Guess which one is my style??? Being primarily an introvert, bouncing off ideas with one trusted person works the best. My last counselor (during dark days at Boeing before retirement) was more clean out your life junk and it will be alright style. I hated it, and didn't go back after 3 visits. Sometimes I write about some of those old times in my autobiographical way (Sara has seen a couple of these), but only the tamer ones get 'published' in as family stories. As Sara says, sometimes if you open that door, stuff gets in or out; there be monsters there.

  3. I actually read your love letter cause it was short. :)

    Keep your chin up and reach for the stars.

  4. Patti, you know I love you. You're so funny sometimes. I'll remember to keep 'em short. :-)