'What will people think?' It used to be the first question I asked myself when I sat down to write about something very personal. But not anymore. Because when I want to be really honest, I need to get to the place inside of me that's vulnerable. It can be scary, but I've discovered that giving a little bit of myself is worth the risk, because readers give the nicest, most meaningful gifts back.
I receive hundreds of emails from readers and authors. The email I'm sharing today from author Kerry Egan, took my breath away and brought me to tears. Actually reading it made me weep.
Kerry took a risk, a huge risk, and wrote about what was in her heart, and then you--the readers at this wonderful book club--gave her the most meaningful gift in return.
From my Email Box:
"Hi Suzanne, my name is Kerry Egan. Almost 12 years ago, you shared my book Fumbling with your readers in your book club. I wanted to reach out to you, to tell you a story and to finally and properly thank you.
You see, I still have every single one of the reader response emails you sent me 12 years ago from the book club. I've kept them in a special folder. They've probably each been read a thousand times. You gave me such a gift with those email responses, such a gift you never could have known.
Twelve years ago, when my first book came out, I was deep in the darkest hours of postpartum psychosis. I was suicidal and/or catatonic most days. I barely survived that year. And what saved me were the people who reached out to me, to say they had read my book, and that it had helped them. I remember clearly thinking, on those suicidal days, that if something I had done or written had helped another person, maybe I should not kill myself. Maybe I still had a place on this earth. It happened, with almost eerie consistency, that on the worst days, the days I stood at the top of the staircase and tried to discern whether throwing myself down them would be enough to kill me, that I got a message from some person thanking me for helping them. Little could they know they had just saved my life.
From you Suzanne and your book club, I got hundreds of messages. They were a lifeline, a raft. I would read them over and over as my son gurgled in my lap, as I fought off the overwhelming urge to die, as I tried to somehow latch into reality again from the terror of Psychosis. So thank you. From the very bottom of my heart. Thank you for saving my life. I wish you the very best with the book club. It, and you, and your readers will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
(Kerry has a new book, On Living, and I've invited her to be a guest author at the book club in the near future.)