For so long, I have admired writers and musicians from far away. Very far, in fact. Even though their art has inspired me, I’ve never had the guts to really tell them that. I’ve never written a single one of them a fan letter. Actually, I’ve also never posted a review of a book or an album—not even for those songs and stories that I’ve committed to memory.
I’m a sensitive over thinker, and my heroes are on such a pedestal, I just can’t imagine what to say to them. Also, it hasn’t gone well when I’ve met these heroes in person. I feel so connected to their lyrics or stories or humor that I want them to feel connected to me too. So, I stammer out stories with no point and it hurts my eyes to look directly at them. It’s kind of painful to even write about it.
Until now. This week I wrote a note to one of my all-time favorite authors, Mary Karr.
Next month, my new book, Family Trees and Olive Branches, will be released. Part of the process of releasing a book is to ask for endorsers. This is just about as fun as calling up strangers from high school and asking them if they think your baby is cute. (Read: it’s so horrible.)
Because….who to ask? The perfect endorser has the platform of Oprah, the reconizability of the pope, and the free time of my thirteen-year-old. In other words, it’s the expert who is also just WAITING for someone to ask her opinion. The Perfect Endorser it’s also someone I happen to know personally. The is to say that the list of Perfect Endorsers is very, very short.
Oh, and the perfect endorser for this particular book loves Christian living books about families.
Anyway, when I thought about who has written well about family (and grace in family), I thought of Mary Karr. She wrote The Liars’ Club about her dysfunctional family and their life in south Texas. Her descriptions about forgiving her parents and trying to raise her son in grace are just so poetic. I have read the book, and its sequels (Cherry and Lit) dozens of times.
(Note: Just to point, Mary Karr always seems to inspire extreme admiration. The late, great genius, David Foster Wallace, tattooed her name on his bicep after just meeting her. I’m totally in good company here).
So, after so much debating and deleting, I hit her up on Facebook. I explained how much I loved her writing, and what a wonderful example she is of grace to her family. I convinced myself that I would never hear back her.
But then, SHE WROTE ME BACK. Only six words, and her answer was NO, but still. This was so much progress.
When my watch buzzed with the message from Mary Karr, a moment of self-awareness struck me. Why all the drama and worry about reaching out to her? She is just another person, another writer, another mother, another daughter. She is full of the same self-doubt and overthinking that I am. (She is a poet, after all.) A message between us was just as simple as that. No need for fear or for berating myself over what to write. It was simple as two writers messaging.
So, here, a bit of grace for myself. Less obsessing and self-doubt. More connection and love for myself.