My favorite podcasts are The Moth and This American Life, both full of stories about what it is to be human. One story on This American Life was about a boy who, years ago, ran away from home to find his hero, the author Piers Anthony. Anthony is famous for his many sci-fi and fantasy novels, including the Xanth series. He’s also known for the chapter-long Author Notes that end his books. In the Author Notes of one book, he says:

“One thing you who had secure or happy childhoods should understand about those of us who did not: we who control our feelings, who avoid conflicts at all costs, or seem to seek them. Who are hypersensitive, self-critical, compulsive, workaholic, and above all survivors—we are not that way from perversity, and we cannot just relax and let it go. We’ve learned to cope in ways you never had to.”

Does it ring true for you? Yeah, it rings true for me, too.

At some point, though, you have to stop blaming and take responsibility for your own happiness. Everything I’ve experienced is part of me and part of my writing, just as it was part of my acting. It’s fertilizer, compost, mulch, manure!

Hang in there. Good use can be made of all that poo.

#Flower#Piers Anthony#podcasts#The Moth#This American Life#Xanth


  1. William Kendall - April 29, 2016 @ 12:29

    It does ring true to me.

    • Petrea - April 29, 2016 @ 18:56

      You funnel it into your massive, impressive creativity, William.

  2. chris - April 29, 2016 @ 14:38

    a ‘secure or happy childhood’ is there one? as they say, ‘everyone has something’… I had a friend who was a distant relative of Nixon- yes, that Nixon… I envied her because she had the parents who weren’t uptight, were open minded… years later, her parents split- and had a very nasty divorce… what we think is better, sometimes isn’t.. I guess it all depends on how you deal w/what you got.

    • Petrea - April 29, 2016 @ 18:57

      I wonder about that too, Chris. “Everyone has something.”

  3. Bellis - May 2, 2016 @ 01:13

    I love this! There’s more poo to fertilise your books when you’re older, that’s for sure, so publishers shouldn’t prefer younger authors without as many shitty experiences to draw on.

    • Petrea - May 2, 2016 @ 08:02

      Hahaha! Now that we’ve had time to reflect on our shitty experiences we know how to write about them.

  4. Lowell/Jacob - May 3, 2016 @ 05:12

    I haven’t know too many people who would say they had a “secure or happy childhood,” at least not in all respects. But some of the greatest writing, in terms of prose, music or poetry and some of the great art seems to derive, in part, from various kinds of adversity.

    Country music, I think, is the epitome of your comment about reflecting “on our shitty experiences.”

    And I’ve written a lot of country music! So what does that tell you? 🙂

    • Petrea - May 3, 2016 @ 08:56

      You know what it tells me, Lowell/Jacob! But I wonder if the greatness of our adversity can be judged by the greatness of our art? I hope not, it’s not a fair criterion either way.

  5. Lowell/Jacob - May 3, 2016 @ 05:14

    P.S. I also tend not to check what I write, so I’ve been known to leave off letters and sometimes I make no sense at all. Thanks for bearing with me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *