I have blogged about death before. When Philip Seymour Hoffman died (here is that post), and when I came across a man on the highway who was hit by a truck minutes ago and died (here is that post), and when I was hit by a truck and didn't die but woke up in the hospital with a bloody face and half of my body bruised black (here is THAT post).
Joan Rivers died 2 days ago, and multiple tweets about it made me look her up. Yes, I have heard her name. No, I didn't really know who she was. It took for her to die, for me to discover her. Her biting wit, which I immediately fell in love with, and her heritage. Turns out, she was born to Russian parents. I was wondering what was so appealing to me in her humor. It's the sharp unapologetic truth and the stabbing hilariousness and the bitter charm that I have in my blood, yet am still afraid to let go. Thank you, Joan, for showing me that I can. You told me that I can say what I think, through comedy. What would I have done without you dying? You can punch me in the face from comedic heaven for saying this, because you must be the queen of it now. I'm convinced of it.
I have gotten used to American politeness in the 1st year since I came here about 16 years ago, and becoming a writer 2 years ago is finally freeing me from this prison. First, my Twitter followers unfroze me from my fear of saying FUCK. Then more of them and other fellow writers and my readers have been encouraging me to speak up about things that matter to me, even though I didn't have much clue about some of them. For example, I'm almost 40 and I have only recently learned about the meaning of rape culture, racism, white privilege, and sexism in publishing in America. These are only a few topics that I'm beginning to grasp. Somehow, being an immigrant and a busy mom, I haven't noticed them until this year. Was I blind? I was. I can't understand how it was possible, but there you have it. I'm learning.
We were talking about death.
Death is what made me want to write. I wanted to kill myself, but started writing instead. And I tend to forget this and start being afraid again. So do we all. And yet there is nothing worse then never truly getting a chance in your life to be yourself, just as you are, imperfect, maybe a little bitter and angry at the world (aren't we all?), but also foolish and giddy and happy like a kid. Or weird and odd and gloomy, stirring your vindictive thoughts by sloshing more vodka in your gut. Or whiskey. Or beer. Or maybe you are a romantic who likes to collect flowers. Whoever the hell you are, isn't it sad that you're ashamed of it? Isn't it tragic if you don't allow yourself to enjoy it just because some mofo told you when you were little that you suck?
Be the odd beautiful imperfect self.
I'm still afraid, afraid to fully let go of my sarcasm. It's jarring. It's cutting. It makes me wonder how I was able to produce such twisted thoughts. But then I'm reminded, again and again. I WILL DIE. It's no use hiding. Why? What might happen? People will scream at me online or drop me on Twitter or whatever? This happened to me before. I'll survive. I've lived through worse.
Nobody is standing with a knife at my throat. I can say whatever I want. I can do whatever I want. Strangely enough, the more I do and say what I truly want, the more people want to see it (my coming up silly ballet dance and reading at Third Place Books, for example) and to hear it (my acerbic and bossy tweets, for example). It puzzles me. Well, no, I'm wrong. It used to puzzle me. When I read about Joan Rivers, I think I became unpuzzled. People want to hear those who know who they are, who are not ashamed of themselves, to believe that they can do it too. We have so much fear in us that we elevate those who dare to the status of celebrities. We worship them. We admire them. We love them. For being who they are.
My books are unlocking me.
JANNA (I'll write it after CORNERS, a book about 4 kids jumping in and out of 30 books) will be about a black woman serial killer who cuts off rapists' dicks and stuffs them in their mouths as her signature. Wow. Did my brain produce this? Yes. Why? I hate rapists. I fucking hate rape culture. I've been raped and abused, and I still have a ton of anger. So I will pour it into this book.
CUPID (I'll write it after MARQUIS, a book about a dog that was born as a cat) will be about a 40 something librarian who divorces a man after being married her whole life and goes on a dating spree, discovering sex for the first time. Oh, you wait, I will spill all of my ridiculous dating adventures in America here. Men who can't fuck, who were raised by overprotective mothers and know only how to take a woman by force. And more.
A TRICYCLE MONSTER (I'll write this after three other fun novels I planned) will be about a murderer and a psychopath, a sweet little boy who liked to ride tricycles and looked like a perfect boy born to perfect parents in a perfect house, in a perfect neighborhood. Gone wrong.
There is more. I can't wait to say it all. All I think. This month I'm wrapping up my ghostwriting project and am starting on CORNERS beginning of October.
But, I wanted this post to help unlock you. If you're still afraid to be yourself, to write stories you want, the way you want to write them. Who gives a fuck what people say? Free yourself from it. Find a way to support yourself financially. Get ready for 2-3 years of poverty. Bite the bullet and write. Have the time of your life. Your life is ending every day. Might as well enjoy it NOW. Money will come, I promise. Not right away, but it will. Just keep doing what you're doing.
Trust your gut. You can do it. I know you can.