As part of the GRNW 2014 conference keynote on Sept. 20, 2014, we asked five writers to share the messages they would send to their past or future selves. We are happy to share these messages with you.
Below is a message from author Rose Christo. Rose was unfortunately unable to make it to the 2014 conference, but we were grateful to share then the piece that she had written.
Hi. Remember me? I know we haven’t kept in contact over the years. It’s just that we’ve never exactly seen eye-to-eye. I had the chance to be a physicist. You stopped me. I almost ran away with the girl of my dreams. You stopped me again. Coexisting with you is like having teeth pulled, only there’s no novacaine, and the dentist is that creepy guy from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Consider this letter a dire warning. Yes, this is the part in A Christmas Carol where the Ghost of Christmas Future points at Scrooge’s grave, right before she rips off her ragged cloak and ballet dances across the stage. Catherine Batcheller is so cool.
I want you to realize that you are not the only person who has to live your life. Everyone around you is living your life, too. Your cousins. Your grandparents. Even that Cliff guy who works the deli with you but doesn’t utter a single word. What you do or don’t do in other people’s presence will affect each of them for the rest of their lives. You might never see the impression you’ve left, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
And so when you tell stories, remember that they aren’t just your stories. Every story you write should be with the intention of making somebody’s life a little bit happier, a little bit easier to live. I don’t want to meet with you again in another five years and find out you haven’t helped a single person. I think I will strangle you with my bare hands.
You are lucky to come from a community that celebrates your differences. You are Two-Spirit, they told you. You are the Shapeshifter, like Ayas. Most people are not as fortunate as you are. Do you even realize that? When you thought that you were ugly, you were taught that you were beautiful. Many people have been tricked into thinking they are ugly. It’s a giant, vicious conspiracy, and that it’s allowed to persist is the most aggravating mystery on this planet. Show them it’s a conspiracy. Show them that they’re perfect as they are. Make them feel it in their bones, in their teeth, in the tips of their fingers and the backs of their skulls until nobody–nothing–can take it away. If you can’t accomplish something so small, you might as well stop writing.
Read more of the 2014 GRNW Keynote, “Write with Pride.”
About the Author
Rose is a Cree from Box Elder, Montana. She majored in agriculture and minored in physics. She dreams of colonizing Europa (the moon, not the continent, yikes). She is the author of multiple novels, including the young adult series Gives Light and the novel The Place Where They Cried. Visit Rose’s website.