Friday, September 07, 2007
Truth & Consequences
This will be the most personally important thing I've ever written.
I should immediately apologize for the sense of melodramatic foreboding that such a statement no doubt casts over what I feel I need to say. The truth is that, despite the apparent heavy-handedness, I haven't rehearsed my words, I haven't studied and perfected my lines, and I really have no idea how to approach the way I'm feeling right now, wrestle it to the ground and put it on the page. Long story short, this will be stream of consciousness. A bumpy ride.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've gone into great detail about a past of which -- as much as I've needed to own up to it -- I've never been particularly fond. I've done things in my life that in no way make me proud. I hurt people who cared about me and did so for purely selfish and rotten reasons. I once lived my life in ways that would shame any decent and sane person, and when it was all over I was left broken, devastated, helpless.
It was at that point -- with my heart and my soul beaten to hell -- that I wanted only one thing: A second chance.
I got it.
I found Jayne, or maybe she found me.
I've written about her plenty on these pages; I've held nothing back when it comes to the strength of my feelings for my wife, and yet I have absolutely no doubt that even with a semi-decent way with words, I have yet to do her or my love for her justice in any real sense. I don't know how to express what I feel -- the depth of my emotion. They haven't invented a language yet that fits.
Jayne has always encouraged me to write honestly, fearlessly. She knows my past -- every dark secret -- and although it's hurt her tremendously and left her more often than not wondering what she got herself into, she's always pushed me to use it to a good end, by writing it down. The level of confidence that she's displayed in that regard is nothing short of astonishing; I don't know if I could've done it, or if I would have. Unfortunately, by constantly writing about it, both in the memoir I've completed and have been shopping to publishers, and here on this site (two of the last three extended posts have been excerpts from my manuscript) I've proven what W. Somerset Maugham once beautifully insinuated -- that there is no past, only an "Everlasting Present."
By writing about the past, I've kept it alive -- maybe even glorified it. I never intended to do either.
I've said on more than one occasion that if I had one wish, it would be that I were "normal." I'd like to wake up one morning to find that the thing I'm decent at doesn't involve sitting alone at a computer for hours on end, vomiting my anger, cynicism, sadness, passion, weirdness and general neuroses all over the place. I know that a person who does this -- who feels this -- isn't always easy to be around. I've admitted before that my wife has put up with a lot, and has never complained. But by the same token, I've tried not to abuse the privilege she's given me and not take her love and respect for what I do for granted.
Have I though?
I'm not sure -- she won't say and may not ever.
Regardless however, I've come to a conclusion. In the immortal words of Randal Graves, it's time to let the past be the past. My life, my love, is so much better now than it ever was -- and to even speak of my difficult history is to lend it more credence, to give it more unfortunate authority, than it deserves.
So, I'm shelving the memoir.
It's been circulated to a few publishers, although admittedly it hasn't been pushed as hard as it could have -- the reason was never a lack of faith in my abilities or in its quality, I just always secretly worried about the damage it might cause in my own life and the lives of those mentioned in it. Those who've read it have responded very favorably, the editors at Gotham/Penguin in particular sent me several glowing e-mails recently, and I honestly have no doubt that it was headed for publication.
You know what though, it's not going anywhere. I wrote a book. It'll always be around should, at some later date, I decide that it's a story worth telling -- when there's even more space than there is now between the life I'm living and the past that seems like nothing but a bad dream.
I will however tell you how the book ends.
It ends with me meeting Jayne.
Because that was the close of a very bad period of my life, and the beginning of a wonderful new one.
End of story.