Late in 2012, I became Facebook friends with a famous writer. I considered him one of the most talented writers around, a truly unique and brilliant voice. His novels are dark and disturbing but also hilarious.
He not only accepted my friend request, but he sent me a message to say he liked my blog. It was like being blessed by the Pope, only better.
We started to write messages back and forth and exchanged email addresses, We shared a depressed but cynically amused world view and had many of the same literary heroes. We even shared a love/hate relationship with weightlifting.
We decided to talk on the phone. I loved his deep voice and I loved his ideas. Here he was, a living god, and he seemed to really enjoy talking to me.
Our conversations weren’t sexual or even suggestive, but it was like a love affair based on a mutual sensibility. That’s how I saw it.
We talked about suicide and his experience helping a deeply depressed friend. I told him that I was struggling, and his insights were comforting and useful.
He told me about a crazy girlfriend who had shattered his belief in his own judgement. She had bailed on him without warning and married some other guy. I agreed with his diagnosis of her and we spent many hours going over the awfulness of dealing with Borderline Personality Disorders.
We talked about the reasons I haven’t tried to tackle a serious writing project. He encouraged me to take the plunge despite my fear of failure and all the usual bullshit that people who can’t write a novel like to use as excuses for their lack of effort or talent.
Then, he offered to be my writing mentor.
It was like a beautiful dream where everything you ever wanted plots right into your lap! I was beside myself with excitement. And even hope. Now I would write something long, something that needed to be expressed in words, in order to both ensure my sanity and justify my worthless existence.
I started to write the story of Max.
I started with the end and worked backwards. I recounted every detail, trying to capture everything. the terror and shock and grief and remorse and most of all the love.
I sent him the six pages and he was supportive, although not exactly bowled over. He reminded me that you can’t just report things, even in a memoir. You have to create a whole world.
And then he disappeared.
He didn’t respond to my phone messages or emails. There was only silence.
I began to worry that he thought I was a stalker, that’s how many messages I left. I became paranoid, wondering if someone had turned him against me. I regretted writing the six pages of complete shit. How dare I have such an inflated opinion of myself to try to write something that mattered!
Then he reappeared. He was sorry about the long silence but things had been rough. However, now he had exciting news. He was deliriously in love with a much younger women but everything was perfect. She was incredibly talented and beautiful and was about to move in with him. They had only just become lovers but they were picking out name for their children. He would support her while she wrote her masterpiece. I think he even gave her a diamond ring.
I was stunned by his story, especially after the long silence. I tried to be happy for him even though I was pretty sure the romance would end badly for him. After another long silence, he called me to let me know that she’d disappeared. She left the ring but took the high-end clothes he bought for her.
We laughed about the clothes. I felt terrible for him. Two crazy girlfriends in a row, and I mean crazy.
Then he disappeared again. And I decided to forget about him. Maybe he was like my own crazy girlfriend, the one whose red flags I refused to notice.
I didn’t try to finish the Max story. I guess it’s a story to carry in my heart until I see him again.