Tag Archives: Open Letter

Letter to My Future Self Before My First Reading

Brick Wall Portrait

Dear JK,

I’m writing to you because you are about to give your first reading as a published writer, because you stand on the edge of a stage or conference room with a book in your hand, one that you wrote. I don’t know if it will be a collection of poems, short stories, essays, a novel, or a memoir, but I hope it’s good. I want to remind you of a few things.

Right now, I write to you from a place of uncertainty. I’m surrounded by brilliant writers; the competition is tough, and my creative impulse waivers at a moment’s notice. Rejection is a constant, and probably always will be. So before you begin reading, thank the audience for attending. They don’t owe you their ears but you owe them gratitude, and more than that, you owe them a good show.

Remember to read like a presentable version of yourself. Be a performer. Slam your stories, sing your poems, dance your essays. Dig deep to make it memorable.

Remember everybody who brought you to this point: friends, colleagues, allies of your writing, advocates for your experimentation. Remember professors, agents, editors, and your family. They put you behind that mic, after all. Your enemies, hopefully, will show up and sit stroking their lap dogs and sneering at you from the front row.

Obviously your forty-seven lovers will attend as well, so give them a nod of thanks for the inspiration they painted across your body. After all, they gave you something to write about in the first place.

Please remember that you are not here because of you deserve it. You’re here because the world gave you a head start and you navigated forward. The world does not owe you this reading, nor the publication it celebrates. Anybody can write, but only a privileged few can publish. I’m glad that you’ve made it through the fire-branding scorn of rejection and the whiplash of criticism.

Keep one final fact in mind before you step up to the mic: this reading begins your afterlife.

I write to you from the position that getting a book published and reading it publicly, bringing it to life with my voice (ugly as it is) is only an impossible dream. After it happens, I can die happy. And now that you, future self, are going to fulfill this pre-death wish, you are about to embark on an afterlife. Nothing that happens after this first reading can ever hurt you, because you’ve already beaten mortality to your dreams. The time between the moment you begin reading and the moment you give in to the biological inevitability of silence will be the equivalent of Eternity. It will be heaven from here on out, no matter what hell the critics put you through. Nothing can hinder the momentous beauty of what you are about to do. So, I implore you, enjoy the reading. Even if it ends up being your last, even if you end up without a career or subsequent publications, you’ve already made it to heaven.

I hope it’s nice there.

Sincerely and forever writing forward,

-jk

P.S. I hope you’ll never forget how much of a hopeless romantic you really are, and that you spent so much time listening to Father John Misty’s “I Went to the Store One Day” while writing letters to yourself.

Birthday Poem for Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“If God hadn’t rested on Sunday, He would have had time to finish the world.”  -Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Marquez

Dear Gabo,

Thank you for showing me

that even if angels did plummet to Earth,

we would probably treat them

as we treat all strangers. Thank you

for your humor and your

observations on the banality of life,

which is our own fault. We may

in fact be in the company of angels,

but we would not notice.

We take the magic of this world for granted,

just as we would take real magic for granted.

I can listen to music from a tiny, shining box

through two buds connected by a smooth, white rope,

and I take it for granted. I can travel

to your country and visit you

by hopping on a winged ship

with a thousand travelers,

and I take it for granted. I can write

a letter to you on a humming typewriter

powered by manufactured lightning

extracted from three holes in the wall

through plastic and metal plumbing,

then send that letter through space and time

to an ethereal cloud encompassing the planet,

with the possibility of you reading it.

As a writer, you made beautiful

that which was ugly

and ugly that which was beautiful,

and you exposed

the underestimated incompleteness

of the world. For that, I am grateful.

Sincerely,

JK