Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Courtesy For Beginners

"And what I could have said then was: I’ll come home and we’ll talk and you’ll feel like somebody understands and you won’t have to hit yourself or throw everything you have around the room. Or you can come up and see me, come up and visit, come up and be a part of the worst camp anybody’s ever seen. Or let’s keep our records together. Let’s keep them in your room. Let’s make a list of all the ones we’ve got. Or I’m sorry I make it harder and I have trouble too and maybe if we take walks or get a hobby we can figure out how to get through this. Or put Daddy on, you can’t go away, you have to stay, we have to stay together. But what I did was the kind of thing you’d do and the kind of thing you’ve done: I felt bad for him and for myself and I went on with my week and then with my summer and I started telling my story to whoever would listen. And my story was: I survived camp. I survived my brother. I survived my own bad feelings. Love me for being so sad about it. Love me for knowing what I did. Love me for being in the lifeboat after everyone else went under. And my story made me feel better and it made me feel worse. And it worked."
-Jim Shepard - Like You'd Understand, Anyway

I am consistently in awe of Jim Shepard's writing. It made a lot more sense that I found a lot of his adolescent-focused fiction relatable once I found out he's from Stafford, CT. In his novel, Project X, he said that the cross country runners get less respect than dorks on the chess team. I used to run cross country meets in his hometown. The above quote feels like a mission statement for writers, at least one for myself. I survived and now I am going to tell you my story, I am going to tell you other people's stories.
I'll be posting some other Shepard quotes and thoughts soon, probably.

P.S. The story I quote was originally in A Public Space Issue Four. Represent!

The Mountain Goats - Sax Rohmer #1