things you never know if you never ask

the first legit biographer to ever read jackie was a pulitzer prize winner with whom my only in-person interaction had been the observation that there should be more stalls in the women’s restroom at the national press club.

because, during a panel, she had expressed liberal views about what constitutes a biographical liberty, i shipped eight questionable pages of jackie off to her to see if, in her estimation, i had sinned.

it’s hard to summon momentum. to keep up your energy over the long haul. because this- writing, biography, life- is a mighty long haul. what you need is some galvanizing force that- even if it leads nowhere, even if it’s fleeting at best- gets you going. it gets words on the page.

the pulitzer prize winner wrote back. her email opened with this line: “well, i must say i enjoyed that…”

as though she hadn’t expected to. as though she were genuinely surprised.

i’m tempted to print out this email and frame it as a reminder. because this is the response i’m writing for, this is the response jackie should get.

you think you know her story. you don’t. i’m going to tell it, though i do not yet know how.

(photo by milton greene)

2 thoughts on “things you never know if you never ask

  1. There are never enough stalls in the ladies’ room, and they’re always further away that the mens… but anyway …
    “Small victories breed will”, is what my mentor always said. Any advice/contact with a Pulizer Prize winner has got to help spur you on. I know exactly how you feel. Somehow the universe provides a little hope and energy whenever I’m at my lowest with Claire Adams. So glad it is also helping you!

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