I am one of those people that believes there’s a movie quote for every situation in life. This week’s quote comes from Captain America (shocking, I know).
[Warning: mild spoilers for Winter Soldier. Just letting you know because I’m nice like that]
It’s the climax of the film. Captain America is fighting against his best friend in an effort to save thousands of lives. S.H.I.E.L.D. has fallen. Nobody really knows what is real anymore. Black Widow pretended to be the councilwoman, kicked some serious butt, and is now helping Fury dump all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secrets–therefore, HYDRA’s–out for the world to see.
Robert Redford, panicking as he’s realizing his whole plan is failing, looks to her as she types on the computer and says, “Are you sure you’re ready for the world to see you as you really are?”
And Natasha gives the perfect penetrating glare and responds, “Are you?”
That was the instance running through my head when I sat down with a journalist this past Wednesday.
Whoa, let’s slam on the brakes here for a moment. Emilee King talking with a journalist? Did this really happen? After all, Emilee King = hermit =private ≠ journalist. I’m no math whiz, but that makes sense to me.
Believe me, I was just as shocked as anyone else to find myself sharing my story with the newspaper. But it totally happened.
Pause for backstory.
A week or so ago, I was preparing to publish my second novel, Surviving through the Night, and decided that I should celebrate and throw a small book launch party. My parents agreed and we started making plans.
I was talking to my friend about said book launch party–specifically about how I would advertise and get people to come–and my grandma heard us talking. She said she had a friend named Genelle Pugmire that worked for the Daily Herald. I asked her to give Genelle a call, not really expecting anything.
That night I got an exciting call from my grandma who told me that Genelle had been captivated by my story and would write a newspaper article on me, as well as take care of my book launch party, all for free. Every author’s dream, right?
But after an evening of jumping up and down, squealing, dancing, and celebrating with my family, the idea started to settle in. Like I’ve said before, I am a private person, which directly conflicts with trying to promote my book. Was this invasion of my precious privacy worth getting my favorite thing out in the spotlight? Was I okay with people getting the chance to take a microscope to my seemingly picture perfect face and see the chips, the gaps, the blemishes, the cracks in my persona, all for my writing?
Was I ready for the world to see me as I really am?
I’ve lost a lot of sleep this week over that question, mostly because I didn’t have an answer. The debate has eaten at me mercilessly, causing my conviction to slide across the scale, creating what I call the Rapunzel effect (clip inserted below for example–I should probably publicly apologize to my family for being forced to deal with me during my Rapunzel week).
Needless to say, it’s been an interesting experience.
The ultimate selling point for me, though, came from Genelle before we started the whole interview process.
“The point is,” she said, “you have a story. And people need to hear it.”
Here I queued up three years worth of excuses that I have loaded in my head. Genelle didn’t even let me get through the first one.
Her eyes filled with tears and she said, “I know people who need to hear your story.”
And that’s where she got me. She pulled on my strings, hitting the one nerve that might make me open up to someone. Because I love stories. I live for stories. That’s why my series is called “Arie’s Story.” That’s why I love movies and characters. That’s why I took up writing in the first place.
I have a story. I am a story. And the only satisfaction that can come with a story is the satisfaction of having it influence another’s. Because, as Margaret Atwood said, “in the end, we all become stories.” In the end, all we have is the legacy we leave behind. It’s our job to make sure it’s something worth reading.
And that’s been plaguing me for the past three years–how can I make my story, my experiences, mean something?
This week I stumbled upon the answer, though I wonder if I knew it this whole time and just didn’t want to see it.
Fiction can be easy, a less painful way to experience life. I want to tell you all about my books because I love them, I love Arie, and it’s a way to vicariously express my story. Reality is much harder to share.
As difficult and conflicting as this experience has been, part of me hopes that it isn’t a ‘one and done’ type of a thing. Part of me hopes that this will be the catalyst that warms me up to sharing. After all, ten percent of the U.S. population is allergic to metal–I gotta find those people! And then we can bond over similar experiences, share different ones, and link together as humans. Because that is what life is all about. Life is all about stories.
So there I was, sitting at the computer on the Daily Herald website. I refreshed the page and the headline popped up: “Teen writes novels to deflect pain of multiple surgeries.” My heart skipped a beat ’cause I knew they were talking about me and it was way too late to back out. A pit formed in my stomach as I tried to decide whether to read it on my own or call for my mom for emotional support or just turn the computer off and pretend I didn’t see it. My finger clicked the link as the words echoed in my head.
“Are you sure you’re ready for the world to see you as you really are?”
Read Genelle’s article here