Brey and I were in Spain in June on a writing retreat with my other Butterworth Books authors, Valden Bush and E.V. Bancroft. At the time, I was reading Viola Davis’s memoir Finding Me (a brutally honest and stunningly visceral book that everyone should consume). There’s a part in it where Viola describes a conversation with Will Smith on a movie set. He asked, “Who are you?” She was understandably confused and needed him to elaborate. He said, “I’ll always be the fifteen-year-old kid who was dumped by his girlfriend,” meaning that an experience in his past continues to define him as a person now. Viola pondered and eventually said that she’d always be the eight-year-old being pushed around by the violent bullies.
Consumed with the question and all it could bring to the surface, I asked my three musketeers, “Who are you?” After explaining the above, Valden answered that she’d always be the six-year-old not wanting to get out of bed in case the monsters underneath got her; E.V. replied that she’s always be the kid trying to get attention from her mum because her brother was always the focus; and Brey said that she’d always be listening for the creak on the stairs for the bad people to come in to her bedroom. All their responses were traumatic and indicative of how they traverse the here and now, carrying the burden of their past into the future. We are the products of our past, for sure.
Of course, they wanted to know my answer, and they said that their responses might’ve been negative because the example was negative. I disagreed. Who am I? I’m the three-week premature kid hanging on so tightly to the umbilical cord that they thought it was strangling me – but I just wanted out. I wanted to get on with life and ride the journey to the very end, grabbing on to every experience it has to offer me. Not negative at all. But then, I was lucky and had a wonderful, working-class family who loved me and encouraged me to be anything and everything I wanted. Sadly, not many of us get that. And I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had it (and still have it)—it’s one of the reasons I’m so comfortable in my skin, so at peace with who I am, and why I’m an “empty vessel” as a Buddhist guru once told me.
Anyhoo, why am I telling you all of this? Because of the support. Because of the community. Because of who we are and can be to each other. I started Butterworth Books to create exactly that kind of environment. Somewhere that authors could be their wonderfully weird selves and be celebrated for it. We’re a bunch of rag-tag people from all kinds of backgrounds, with all types of baggage, and plenty of physical and mental health issues. And we’re in it together. We go on retreats together, we sit in places all over the world but in a virtual writing room together, and we’re there for each other through the darkness and the light.
And on that note of support and community, I’m sharing news of today’s Butterworth Books’ release, An Art to Love by Helena Harte. You can buy it here and read it free on Kindle Unlimited. And as you can see from the graphic and quote from another Butterworth Books’ author, award-winning E.V. Bancroft, it’s a damn good book.
So, who are you? Comment or email me or get in touch on social media–I’d love to know.
And remember, le bonheur c’est maintenant (happiness is now/the best time is now). Ciao, lovely readers 🙂