Now, ducks, before you think that I mean that my surgeon had some, er, interesting ideas about anatomy, by a long tail I just mean: I have a past. It was not particularly unaccomplished, although–duh–it wasn’t exactly fulfilled. But I did some cool things, was on (syndicated) TV a few times, got married, got divorced, wrote a couple dozen books, learned to speak French, even learned a little aikido.
Oh, the books? Yeah, you might have guessed that’s what I wanted to talk about.
Now, before you search the ISBN catalog (and begin speculation that I am actually John Irving, finally over his castration issues), let me hasten to say: as writing goes, this was pretty assembly-line stuff. I wrote, mostly as work-for-hire, not-quite-textbooks. For 8th graders.
I say not-quite textbooks because they weren’t text books: that is, you wouldn’t teach a class using them. Instead, these were the books you’d read to do a book report on, say, Gold. (I didn’t write one on gold, but I kinda wish I had–it was more interesting than some of the stuff I did write about.)
Now, I’m telling you all this because a few months ago I got something from my publisher. I was rather astonished–it couldn’t be a royalty check, those dried up years ago. But I was even more surprised when I read what was inside:
It seems that a young boy had read my book about a famous sports figure of the previous century, and written me a letter.
Well, not me exactly.
Me, just before. The other me. The…aw, you get the picture.
So, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this: it was a nice letter, though it asks some interesting questions (did I play football as a boy, for example), and rather charmingly lets me know how cool it would be for an author to write back to him.
But–and this is the dilemma of me and my tail–how on earth do I go about this? Write back using my old name? No offense, but I hate having to do that; I still have a few accounts under my old name and I never call their customer service anymore, because I’d have to….it’s too gruesome to contemplate.
Or do I write back and say that Old Name was a pseudonym (not exactly a lie) and I’d be happy to correspond but I am, you know, a girl. Not super honest, but maybe more palatable.
Or do I do evangelism? Say, hey kid, here’s an update about me: and maybe open his mind up to queer and other possibilities? Is that too heavy to dump on a kid? Sheesh, I don’t even know how old he is!
(Hmm, maybe I could write to his parents. Hadn’t thought of that.)
Anyway, I’ve been going back and forth about this; I’ve kept the letter pegged to my apartment door, so I see it every time I leave. And it was a nice letter, and maybe deserves a response.
Then I realized: hey, I have a smart readership. Small, but smart: you guys are like the elite core of my future dominance of a tiny little corner of the trans internet! So, I thought I’d ask you all to weigh in, ducks: I put it up as a poll at the upper right. Or answer in the comments. Or ignore the question–trust me, I sympathize.