I am writing from my favourite library in the city, staring out the large window at the grey and rainy day outside. I have been leaving the comfort of my home every day, exploring different spaces to write, and it seems the most obvious of them all, the library, really does beat any other option. No pressure to buy a beverage or overpriced pastry, several empty electrical outlets, and a general understanding that silence is golden. Not to mention, being surrounded by books, which makes for a pleasant atmosphere when attempting to write a book. Three cheers for libraries.
Although I have been writing every day, I have written very little, considering how quickly words tend to flow out of me. I’m finding it difficult to really tell “my story” as a proper story. To know where to start, what to include, what’s interesting and what’s a complete bore.
I also get a bit discouraged when I realize how many cancer memoirs are out there. It seems it’s extremely common for people with cancer, specifically women with breast cancer, to write a book about their experience. But what keeps me motivated are a few things:
A lot of these books aren’t written well. There, I said it. Sorry, but just because you had cancer does not mean you are now a writer.
A lot of these books are written like survival or “how-to” guides. How to get through chemo, how to tell your kids, etc. etc. And while that’s all great, I don’t see myself writing any such guide, or telling anyone how to deal with his/her cancer. All I want to do is simply tell a story. My story.
A lot of these books are written by older men and women. Even some of the ones I found by younger authors were still written by people older than I am.
A lot of these books seriously lack humour, and conversely, some are so lighthearted that to me, they don’t really show the full picture of what it is to live with cancer. There are lots of female-centered cancer memoirs that try to emulate a Sex and the City vibe. Cancer can be sexy! I kept my feisty, feminine spirit the whole time! Cancer has nothing on me! If you’ve been reading along, you will know that I am not that person… at all. Cancer is shit, especially when you’re a young adult, and I have no intention of shielding anyone from its realities. I think there’s a way to be dark, and truthful, and humourous. And I don’t believe there are too many people who have managed to do this.
And lastly, what I keep telling myself is this: My story is uniquely mine and no one else’s. It doesn’t matter if a million people have chronicled their disease. No one is me, inside my head. As much as there are many commonalities, we all experience life and its struggles very differently. What if JK Rowling had said to herself, “There have been too many books about wizards and magic, it’s all been done before.” You guys, we wouldn’t have Harry Potter. And a world without Harry Potter is just not a world I want to live in.
So, that’s my pep talk for the day. Maybe it will inspire you to do something you’re not sure you’ll be any good at. Or maybe it will just inspire you to buy my book, some day, a long time from now, when it is complete. And I’d be okay with that; if there’s anything you can infer from the fact that I am in a library, it’s that I’d welcome a little financial boost in my life. And then maybe instead of the one bagel I purchased, I would go wild and purchase two bagels. TWO BAGELS.
Dream big, friends.