On page 248 of her memoir, LIT, Mary Karr shares a note she received from friend and former teacher, Tobias Wolff.  She taped it over her desk.

Don’t approach your history as something to be shaken for its cautionary fruit … Tell your stories, and your story will be revealed … Don’t be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else.  Take no care for your dignity.  Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth.

This memoir business — the writing of memoir, I mean — is not for everyone.  Pointing that hot magnifying glass inward, feeling your own fingers type out your pettiness, your most shallow thoughts, things you would never even want to tell a shrink, is at once paralyzing and scary as all hell.  I was working away this morning when, as often happens, I got teary-eyed scared.  Of myself.  And it occurred to me that maybe I could tape that Tobias Wolff letter over my desk, too.

Thank you, Mary Karr, for sharing.

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