“I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time. To live? I don’t attach any importance to my life any more. I’m alone. No, I wanted to come back, and to warn you. And see how it is, no one will listen to me.”
“But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like-free at last!”
“Men to the left! Women to the right!”
Elie Wiesel, Night
“I close my eyes and I let my body shut itself down and I let my mind wander. It wanders to a familiar place. A place I don’t talk about or acknowledge exists. A place where there is only me. A place that I hate. I am alone. Alone here and alone in the world. Alone in my heart and alone in my mind. Alone everywhere, all the time, for as long as I can remember. Alone with my Family, alone with my friends, alone in a Room full of People. Alone when I wake, alone through each awful day, alone when I finally meet the blackness. I am alone in my horror. Alone in my horror. I don’t want to be alone. I have never wanted to be alone. I fucking hate it. I hate that I have no one to talk to, I hate that I have no one to call, I hate that I have no one to hold my hand, hug me, tell me everything is going to be all right. I hate that I have no one to share my hopes and dreams with, I hate that I no longer have any hopes or dreams, I hate that I have no one to tell me to hold on, that I can find them again. I hate that when I scream, and I scream bloody murder, that I am screaming into emptiness. I hate that there is no one to hear my scream and that there is no one to help me learn how to stop screaming. . . More than anything, all I have ever wanted is to be close to someone. More than anything, all I have ever wanted is to feel as if I wasn’t alone.”
James Frey, A Million Little Pieces
“But there is only one thing that has power completely, and this is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.”
“There is a man sleeping in the grass. And over him is gathering the greatest storm of all his days. Such lightening and thunder will come there has never been seen before, bringing death and destruction. People hurry home past him, to places safe from danger. And whether they do not see him there in the grass, or whether they fear to halt even a moment, but they do not wake him, they let him be.”
Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country
These three books, with their powerfully time-stopping words, changed my life. Changed the way I saw myself and the world around me. These books and their authors followed no set guidelines on most ‘how to write’ definitions. They played with their words, with their sentence structures — and succeeded in creating great works. I saw that I could be completely individual in my writing, which most teachers have scorned me for, and I would be alright.
These three books gave me a friend when I had none. They gave me strength when I found myself weak. I saw that pain and solitude were universal issues. And I was inspired to share my story. Because in sharing your pain, you are almost always helping someone else’s.
The written word should not be picked apart and prodded for errors. It shouldn’t be dishonored for not following the same old grammatical influences that continue to bore. The written word is unique, is personal. These books helped me understand that there is a place for every type of style and thought.
More important than spelling, more important than black-and-white grammar, is movement. The ability to change your reader, to inspire them, to get them thinking, to get them talking. The power to find your reader a different person when they have finished indulging in your work. That is what these authors taught me, and that is what I remember and try to emulate in my writing.