Is There Life After TheLL?

No. Not for me.

In December 2015 I self published The Lemay Leveller. The entire summer and autumn of 2015 I frantically revised my final draft, using my indispensable editor’s notes, praying that I would live long enough to see it published. I never tried to shop it to agents and publishers. I was single minded, obsessed about making TheLL live in the public domain before I croaked. I didn’t have time to jump through the crazy hoops of the publishing world.

It was all I could see. The book, and Alex’s face. I was fighting so hard to survive the ruins of my body, all I could think was “publish and be damned”.

Now here we are in August 2016 and I’m still alive. Due to the nature of my condition, my life is extremely uncertain. I’m living on borrowed time, I’m like the cat that can’t be killed but limps along, terrifyingly. We don’t know how many more of these awful attacks my body can take before a final stroke or bleed finishes me off. I’m learning to live with that precarious reality, knowing I’ve got a time bomb in my head. But where does that leave my legacy, TheLL?

With few exceptions (and those, personally motivated due to the nature of the book) everyone has surprised themselves and me by loving it. Though everyone unanimously says it was uncomfortable to read at times. I hear the same comments over and over again but I never could hear it enough, so vast and deep is the gulf inside of me. Unputdownable. Should be a movie. Better than many books produced by major publishers. Thank you for writing it, I’m glad I know now. Every parent should read this. Every social worker should read this. Five stars. Long please God, may it continue.

TheLL is my baby isn’t it. You know that if you’ve read it. The need to produce this book drove me like a torrential rain. Now it’s done, it’s out there. Sales are nothing compared to big hits but respectable for a self published book with absolutely no marketing put into it… I can safely say that I’ve tormented over 100 readers. For the first nine months, it could be worse. (If you haven’t read it – do! It’s good!)

But I am at a loss within myself now that it’s done. I miss writing it. It’s what I wrote for twenty years. Stopping writing it feels like dying in a way. Living within those words and memories has been my survival. And now they’re all bundled up and out there changing the world, one reader at a time. But I’m not done writing. You’ll know that if you read my book. Writing is my coping mechanism. It is unnatural, how I coexist with it. Or maybe it’s perfectly natural, simply unusual. Nothing is certain for me until I have written it down. I process by writing.

The first draft of TheLL was written at a table in Eat Rite, the diner that Carol dropped me off at after I was released from Highland, aged 17 with twenty-plus stitches in my wrist. I had a backpack and another bag and that was all of my worldly possession. I had nowhere to live but the 24 hour diner that thankfully never ejected me. Exhausted and broken, I wrote for ten straight hours. And although it was as yet untitled, The Lemay Leveller had just been born.

Fast forward twenty years. I am 37 and the scar the stitches left is pale. And I am not ready to stop. There is a bulldog inside of me that won’t leave it alone, that wants to shake it until it’s sick. It loves this book, it needs this book to be loved by others, for the sake of the little girl whose diary was exposed, the little girl who grew ferocious bulldog jaws because she wanted to live. And then she wanted to flaunt living and squeeze it for all that it’s worth.

As an experiment, I am going to try writing as I did for TheLL… Going into that place and voice but on this blog. To tie up loose ends, rant in my memories, rant on the world that creates the circus I had to survive. Show you what it was like when I was writing in my notebooks all those years of desperation. I think what I’m trying to say is… That I’m thinking of opening my diary again. Just to experiment. This Lemay Leveller that I am is not done levelling. When it’s time to walk away I’ll know. In the meantime I’m here. Welcome back.

“Momma said there ain’t nothing else to talk about

Gotta go in that ring and knock them out.” – “Asshole” – Eminem

(On my wall, a gift from “Troy”)

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