For the longest time I've had the policy of not reading what I write. I've had many reasons along the way be it that I didn't want to over-analyze the words I used, or perhaps even being overly critical on myself, or maybe even hating the words all together. Those are what I've said, but under it all I have been afraid of how I would react to reading the words.
In July of last year I set out on an ambitious project (ambitious by my standards) entitled, "Finding Kansas: Revisited" and I thought that it would make a wonderful series and would be appropriate in 2015 to celebrate a decade since I first started to write.
When I started I flew at first. Writing a follow up to "The Best Day" was easy as I still remember that first race day as if it were just yesterday. Then I got to the stories of Emily and Linda and those were easy as well. I will say though that in this version of my book those chapters were cut to a fraction of what they were in their original form.
Then I got to "Game Theory" then "Work" and things started to become difficult. I wasn't analyzing my word choices, I wasn't nit-picking my writing style, the problem was that I was feeling emotions; and not just a little amount of emotions but a tsunami of unabated emotions that could not be contained. My fears of what would happen if I read the words that I had written were coming true.
I ended up, on July 31st, writing a follow up to the chapter "See" and after that I had to take a break. This break was only going to be a day or two but turned into a month, then several, and it wasn't until Sunday night when I was at a hotel in Neosho, Missouri that I once again picked up my work entitled, "Finding Kansas" and I opened the book to the chapter, "Fear" and once again I was overly consumed with emotions.
As I read my words I could clear as day remember the setting to which I wrote the words and yet when I read them, instead of writing them, it was as if I didn't recognize the words and I was experiencing the thoughts, the ideas, the emotions, and the fears for the first time. In my follow up to "Fear" I wrote that I couldn't believe that I wrote something so deep so soon. I thought my writings started out somewhat, well, to use another sports metaphor, "in the minor leagues" but reading "Fear" then the chapter after entitled, "Trapped" I realized that my understanding of myself right off the bat was amazing and I started off right in the majors.
After "Trapped" I was unable to continue on once again. Since reading those two chapters I just have been consumed, utterly and fully consumed by the thoughts put forth in those chapters. It's odd to read something so eloquent and precise that I wrote a decade ago. To be honest I felt as if the 22 year old me is stronger, wiser, and more assured of the current form of me. This most certainly isn't true, and if I were to go back and read my blog posts from 2010, 2011, and 2012 I'd probably feel the same way about then as I do about my words from 2005.
At this point in time I don't know if I can continue on. I write this at my desk with my book opened up to the table of contents and I'm looking ahead to the chapters that lie ahead and I shutter at what my reactions could be.
There is one critical thing I have learned from this so far and that is my coping skills for life is better. This isn't to say that the issues put forth in the first fifth of my book aren't still there, trust me when I say that they are, but the challenges aren't as challenging. Perhaps this is because I am aware of the challenges, perhaps it's because I'm simply older, but whatever it is there is certainly growth of when I wrote Finding Kansas to now.
So I don't know what to do now; I don't want to quit the project but at the same time the emotions I have felt from reading my own work has not drawn out the most productive of emotions in me. I have to say I just got a chuckle as I looked to my left at my desk and I found a version of my book I could read without any issues. Granted, I wouldn't understand a single word of it, but there it sits, "Odnalezc Kansas: Zespol Aspergera rozszyfrowany" which is the Polish edition of my book. That would be cheating, however, because I know the chapters of my book and I could write a follow up to most of them without reading the words, but wasn't this the point of my series to begin with? To read the words, not just the concepts, but to revisit where I was? That's the fear though, what if I'm just older but the words of then are still as valid as today? I'm a fighter and instead of giving up (which I wanted to) I started to write, but what if I don't/can't dive back to where I was when I started?
We'll just have to wait and see if I am able to do this. I have talked to a few other writers who are very much like me in that they've never read any of their own writings. I have a nagging voice in the back of my mind that is telling me if I don't finish my own book and this project I will have failed somehow, but perhaps my fears all along were true and as I've said at presentations, when asked why I haven't read my own book, "My fears of reading my own book are like this; imagine you had the most intense therapy session in your life where you spelled out all of your fears, all of your regrets, and you and your soul were laid out with nothing hidden; no hidden thoughts, no hidden problems, for the first time in your life you were able to share everything with no hidden meaning nor hidden agendas. Now, years later, would you want to go back and be a witness to that in the third person?" For myself, that's what writing is. I can write from the first person but when I read I'm now viewing myself from the third person and riding the vessel I created in my words is, as would be witnessing your most intense therapy session ever would be, an uncomfortable ride. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying my book or my words are bad as if they were I would not be having such a hard time with them. The thing is that I read the essence to who I am and I viewed it from the third person. That's a difficult thing. Also, however, I know now, just from the short distance I've made it in my book, that my words I wrote are beyond valuable to understanding Asperger's and in the other part of my brain I'm plotting on how to get my 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th books published and I've got the excitement once again to restart writing my 5th book. It doesn't matter how long the time span is from when I started writing Finding Kansas because the thing I've learned is that the words within my book are timeless.