For Christmas, my husband gave me a subscription to Creative Nonfiction. My first issue recently arrived in the mail. In it was a series of email exchanges between Cheryl Strayed, also known as Dear Sugar from the The Rumpus and Elissa Bassist. Yes! I had just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and loved it. I hadn’t heard of Dear Sugar but was immediately sucked in by this exchange. As a new writer, Elissa Bassist had written to Dear Sugar to say, “I write like a girl. How does one go on when you realize you might not have it in you? How does a women get up and become the writer she wishes she’d be?”
Yeah how? I wonder the same thing. My bookshelves are peppered with books on writing; Bird By Bird, Writing Down the Bones, On Writing, and many others. I have found some wonderful words of wisdom in these books, but I must say Sugar’s response to Elissa certainly caught my attention, “…get your ass on the floor. So write Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.”
Immediately enamored and intrigued with Sugar, I ran to the bookstore to purchase Tiny Beautiful Things, which is a compilation of letters from The Rumpus readers and Sugar’s responses. As I began to read this fabulous little book, I found that each of her letters could be a stand-alone beautiful piece of writing. She doesn’t pull any punches but also bares her heart by sharing her own stories. Sugar writes with such compassion and freely includes terms of endearment for these people she has never met, such as sweet pea and honey bun.
In Creative Nonfiction, Cheryl and Elissa continue their conversation by email. Elissa asks, “What would you say if I said I felt jealous of you?”
Cheryl answers, “I’ve been writing a lot longer than you have. With all Sugary affection, Elissa, you haven’t yet earned the right to be jealous of me.”
So if you are a fellow aspiring writer, I say we get our asses down on the floor and write like a motherfucker!