My book comes out in about a month.
I am so stressed that I have a huge cold sore on my face. Yep. The motherfucker skipped my lip (apparently, lip cold sores are for sissies) and erupted right there on my face. I am like that craggy face guy from The Fantastic Four or the Elephant Man. I can’t be sure as I have been avoiding mirrors and shiny surfaces.
“Don’t look at me, I’m hideous,” I tell W.
I have forbidden her from making direct eye contact with me.
Actually, I think it’s best that everyone refrain from looking at me or even in my direction, at least for a few months, I suggest.
It seemed like a good idea to write a memoir. Until right before it’s available for purchase. Then not so great. Like New Coke.
I am re-thinking my decision not to use my Middle-age Butch alias. Or my other pen names: I. B. Butch, I.P. Daily (that was me) and Sexy Handsome Beast.
When I am telling W all of this — 1) don’t look at me and 2) pseudonyms rule — she notes that I am smiling a lot for a person on the verge of a memoir-induced psychotic breakdown.
I tell her that’s normal. Extra smiling = crazy. Everyone’s seen The Shining, right?
I don’t admit that I’m excited about the book. I only admit that I’m nervous.
I’m feeling vulnerable and exposed. I’m worried about what people will say. I’m worried about being perceived as a freak — a boy-girl mutant, a girl/boy oddity — to those who don’t understand.
W tells me it’s too late to take it all back now. The wheels have been set in motion.
I try to remind myself why I wrote my story in the first place. Through the writing process, I learned who I am, as a person and a writer.
But I wasn’t writing for that me. The today me. I was writing for the me who existed three or four decades ago. The young girl who didn’t know she had options. Who didn’t know gender isn’t carved in stone. Who didn’t know she could marry a girl. Or shop exclusively on the left side of The Gap. And that the world wouldn’t end if she did those things. In fact, her world would just start beginning.
I try to remember that my story is important. That all of our big butch stories are important. (Silent nod.) That all stories about those who live in the margins and on the fringe are important. We are underrepresented in literature and largely misunderstood.
I try to remember that I wrote the book for that one person who will recognize herself in the pages and feel not so alone, at least for a few minutes.
That is the power of books and stories and writers. We read to know that we’re not alone.
I try to remember all of that as I sit here scared and unsure of my words.