My recent book The Happiness Glass was one I debated the wisdom of publishing. I feared it was too personal, too revealing; it shed light into places that were best left dark. But in the end I decided to go ahead because I needed to find a way to talk about some difficult things that had happened.
Human beings have never talked so much, yet silence gathers around anything broken. There is so much overt concern in these times, yet we often ignore the suffering of the people closest to us.
The Internet has changed the way we talk to our friends, indeed, it has changed the nature of friendship. But this is what I have learned from writing and publishing a revealing piece of life writing:
1. The people that respond first are those who have their own, often severe, troubles.
2. The words of a complete stranger can be a comfort.
3. People you know in real life may never respond. Perhaps they are dismayed by the personal revelation, or, just as they are unable to deal with the grief of others in the real world, so they are unable to deal with it when it is written down.
4. People who are close to you may tell you about a sad event that has happened to an unknown person, or an instance of social injustice, while continuing to ignore your suffering.
5. It can bring old friends back to say hello, and this is one of its greatest blessings.
The Happiness Glass has gathered some wonderful reviews, including one in The Age that I will probably frame and keep in my writing room. And whether or not it becomes a breakthrough book in terms of sales, it has been a breakthrough for me into a new kind of writing, one in which fiction is built around the true note struck by memoir.