Thursday, June 4, 2015

Witnessing the Hidden Things

This is sort of a sequel to yesterday's post. I've noticed something odd about this year: more and more, people are telling me stories of their pasts. Of hidden things.

It seemed to start with the publication of The War That Saved My Life. My main character has a club foot, never treated; at age ten, when the story opens, she walks only with great difficulty and pain. Since its publication, I've heard from many people, some of them friends I've known for years, that they either were born with club feet themselves, or that they had other serious orthopedic issues that required surgical correction in early childhood. When I spoke at the Festival of Children's Reading in Knoxville, a woman came up to me who used the sort of crutches you have when need them all the time, not just for an injury. She said, "As you can see, I'm mobility-impaired, so your book was important to me."

Lately I've been more open about my own stories on my blog, and people write back in private heartfelt comments--it's been sixty years and I still have nightmares. That sort of thing.

Hoo, it's hard to have these burdens. But harder still to bear them in secret. Someone, I forget who, once said, "writers write to know that they are not alone." If we do our job properly, everyone feels less alone.