A guest post by Ethel Rohan, author of the Shebooks memoir Out of Dublin.
Out of Dublin, my short memoir from Shebooks is just ten thousand words. Ten thousand of the hardest words I’ve ever laid down. I’ve felt similar pain, and fear and anxiety, when I published my chapbook, Hard to Say. Yet while there’s a lot of my past in those fifteen tiny linked stories, I wrote them as fiction peopled with characters, and with distance and imagination. Out of Dublin is a whole other beast. In Out of Dublin, there’s no where to hide.
That’s why I wrote Out of Dublin, though. I’m done with hiding, and with the unsaid. The unsaid has tormented me over decades. What price will I pay, though, for these ten thousand words. I’m frantic Out of Dublin will cost me family and friends, that some will criticize me for putting in print what they believe should stay private. I write, though. That’s what I do. I write about what matters most to me.
These past several months, the fifth commandment, Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, has breathed on the back of my neck, chasing me. My parents would hate that I’ve written this book. That’s what presses on my chest, makes me panic. I’ve agonized. For me, it comes down to intention. My intention is not to dishonor my parents. I love my mother and my father. My intention is to make the truth into writing that’s artful and valuable, because the truth alone hurts too much and does no good.
I’m often scared and confused. I often don’t know if I’m doing the right or the wrong thing. I always try, though, to do my best. Recently, when I felt most afraid, most anxious, and most confused about publishing Out of Dublin, I made myself sit in my garden, and close my eyes, and listen to the birds, and feel the gold of the sun on my face, and even though I got calm and still, I didn’t feel or hear or see anything that seemed like a sign.
I had to make up my own mind, and I did.
It’s easier to look away from the hard things, to stay silent.
Easier isn’t enough for me. I decided to keep scaring myself.
Read Ethel Rohan’s powerful memoir, Out of Dublin, only from Shebooks.