Sometimes, when I thumb through The Sunshine Chronicles I’m left in a state of disbelief that I wrote it. It came too easily. It’s a funny book.
For the last 17 years, I’ve been writing about painful topics like child abuse, PTSD, and the alienation that comes from growing up in the diaspora of military life— a serious memoir. Every word of that book felt like it was ripped out of me. For years now, I’ve been doubting I was a real writer. I wasn’t writing. So how could I have written this funny thing?
In-between the dark words.
One of the few blessings of PTSD is hyper-vigilance. I don’t miss much. When I couldn’t wrestle painful words into scenes from my past, I observed life as it occurred around me in my now, and wrote it. If I had an interesting thought, I’d post it to Facebook. A weird thought? Post it to Facebook. I followed that advice my teachers gave to jot down things as they came, but instead of a journal, I used Facebook. But how could all those dark words and this quirky book could come from the same person? Which writer am I? The answer is, I am both, and much more. Check back with me in ten minutes. I’ll be someone new. Whoever I am, I’m a work in progress.
Walt Whitman wrote, “Very well then I contradict myself (I am large. I contain multitudes).” Identity isn’t static. Over the course of a lifetime, one must reinvent oneself to grow. I’ve discovered is that my painful past isn’t my present reality. I’ve built something more joyful than what I was born into. I’m a real writer—I just didn’t realize it until I opened a book I’d already written and started reading.
Jan Becker on the Jitney