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letter from d

I'm going to come right out and say it: I love Facebook. I do. It's worth noting that I do not spend much time at all on the site - maybe ten minutes a day? - but the time I do spend is both enjoyable and rewarding. I love that Facebook facilitates connections with friends old and new. I love being able to see pictures of tiny babies and beloved dogs and lavish weddings and happy people. I relish being able to stay on top of the careers of authors I admire. Most of all, I love getting back in touch with people who were once important in my life, but slipped away for no good reason at all.

A few days ago, a friend from college whom I have not seen in ages - a beautiful and brilliant girl - messaged me to say that she had finished reading Life After Yes. I was thrilled of course to hear that she loved the book, but her note was so much more than simple praise for my literary debut. I could explain how deeply her words affected me, but decided it would be far more powerful to share her words with you. I asked her if I could write a blog post about our exchange and she was quick with a generous yes. She said I could post her letter and even use her name, but I have decided to refer to her instead as d just as she closes her note. I have also eliminated information about where she lives. (Hey, I'm a paranoid creature.)

Hey Aidan!

I just finished your book today and I LOVED it! I know it's taken a while for me to finish, and I'm going to share why it's taken so long because its so very relevant to how the book affected me. I'll try to be brief (not because I don't want to share-- I'm an exceedingly open person so I will always elaborate-- I just didn't want to ask you to read a novel of my own, just yet ;) So, the move to X was great and I love the city. A few weeks after starting work, I was getting ready to take time off to study for the bar (which I wasn't that excited about since I'm even more ready than I thought to not be in the law), when my dad suddenly died. It was unexpected, so it was a lot to process and a lot to do (his affairs are a mess and it's going to be a long time to sort things out). I wasn't close with my dad, but had already gone to a lot of therapy to address those issues, including asking the question of whether I was okay in case he died (weird I know but my sister has crazy weird premonitions and last summer she said she thought he'd die in the next year or two). Even so, it still hit pretty hard. But I still had to study for the bar and then the MPRE, so that was pretty stressful- flying back and forth to Y with my little barbri books.

And then right after I finished the bar, I was in one of my close friend's weddings in San Diego and I was totally caught off guard by my reaction to the father/bride dance (I played it off after a good long cry outside). And then the next day the guy I'd been seeing for the last 2 months (not terribly serious but high potential) broke things off. So, quite a lot in the last month.

I'm actually doing really well, and this weekend finally had some time, so I picked LAY back up. I think it was just what I needed. In this crazy way it tied together so many things I'm struggling with-- wanting to escape the law in part because I question whether I can remain ME within it, dealing with the death of my father (who was not perfect, but was still my father), knowing it will be my mother who walks me down the aisle some day, and still looking for the person to walk towards. So, not only did I think it was brilliantly written and raw and honest in a way I don't expect from first novels (call me a literary snob ;), but it touched me. And I mean it REALLY touched me. As a writer I imagine you hope to touch people and I'm hoping this is one of the highest compliments I can give you for your first of what I hope are many brilliant novels. So, thank you for writing it! I'm also so excited for you and will be recommending it left and right!

I realize this was a bit of a sad face message, but it was only so you could see how much your book meant to me. Otherwise, I am doing well-- X is a great city, I'm thrilled to live near my mom and sister and nephew, I already have some great friends, I really like the people at my firm, I do yoga a ton and am still running (gearing up for a half in Moab, Utah which is supposed to be gorgeous)... so overall I really am okay. I only emphasize this because I know if I read all that, I might question whether "I really am okay" is an email message front covering a broken soul. I'm not broken-- I'm just settling back in to "whelmed" from "overwhelmed" and wanted desperately to finish your book and tell you what I thought! It just happened to have taken on a very personal edge for me.

Anyway, I hope you are doing well! I see pictures of your gorgeous little girls and see you in their faces... so amazing!

xo, d

I read these words again now. For the umpteenth time in two days. I smile and fight tears. This friend is going through so much right now, but she is also so strong, so vibrant, so d. It means the world to me that she took time from her life, her complicated life, to write these words. To tell me that my book affected her, struck something in her. This letter reminds me of many things, but two in particular: (1) We are not alone. We are all struggling with something. We all have open wounds, lost parents or lost loves, haunting personal and professional doubts, mental and physical aspirations; (2) I am writing to make people feel. This, for me, is not ultimately about sales rankings and bestseller lists and money. This is about writing words, stringing them together with heart and soul and reverence for humanity, in such a way that they might, if I succeed, touch someone else, and profoundly.

Thank you for your words and the reminders they bring, d. I love you and know you will weather this cruel storm with your trademark fortitude and grace.

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  • Do you have any words of encouragement or wisdom for my friend d during this time?
  • Do you write to make people feel? To make yourself feel?
  • Are you amazed by the resilience of human beings during objectively rotten existential times?
  • Do you enjoy the connections and re-connections that Facebook facilitates?

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