October 18, 1984
I just talked with your grandmother over the telephone, so let’s get the unpleasant business out of the way. She tells me that she paid part of the doctor’s bill for your examination of your ankle. How is that? Did I not give you $150. in cash? Please pay the amount you owe her and send me the bill as I requested.
Not only have you been dishonest (and I assume that is why you haven’t written), but you added further fuel to the list of grievances my mother has against me. She thought you had sent me the bill &, therefore, she thought I was being irresponsible and not paying her what I owed her.
I asked her t speak to you about it, and you will give her the money. If she says you don’t have to, you will say that you apologize & that you must give her what is due. If you don’t have the money now, then you will pay her as you can. I’m sure this matter can be cleared up by Thanksgiving.
Let’s start right now by you writing me a letter about this matter. I think you owe me an apology and an explanation. I love you a lot; I love you as much as there can be.
I have no memory of this. Well, I remember hurting my ankle because I hadn’t hurt my ankle at all. I did my best to fall down a flight of stairs at school so that I wouldn’t have to dress out at gym. Since I didn’t go shopping for nice clothes, wear make-up, go out with friends, or smoke, I’ve no idea why I would’ve kept the money.
I don’t want to think of myself as a thief, but I had lied about the ankle, so who knows what my 15-year-old self was thinking. (This letter is dated 4 days after my 15th birthday.)
But this isn’t a side of myself I like to know.
Sometimes I want to know what is wrong with my writing. Where do I fail as a writer. No 15-year-old is perfect and neither is any writer. But I’ve hesitated to ask people what I’ve done wrong. What if these flaws are permanent? What if I’m unable to fix them? What if these flaws are what will always be in the way of publication?
Then again, isn’t painful criticism part of the price of being a better writer?