Once, long ago, I was a young man. I wrote a story about another young man who climbed up onto the roof one night to see what he could see. He saw the moon and the stars above, and he saw the lights of the town before him like a rolling twinkling blanket stretching off into forever. In the darkness he saw where things were. He found them in the void where light was not. One black mass was an abandoned building, another was a stand of trees, and so on. He found meaning in this. When he moved to return to his life below, he found that the ladder he’d used was gone. Had someone stolen it? Had the young man’s father come upon it, and muttering about carelessness, had he taken it to put it away? Had the ladder even existed at all? After all, the young man was fictional. Perhaps the ladder was no more real than the young man himself?
I’m sure that if the story hadn’t been lost, I would find it pretentious. An authors early works are only illuminating to a select few. For the authors themselves they are merely a source of embarrassment. We like to find a way to believe that we are honest and insightful, good and true, and above all talented. We like to believe that we always had these qualities, and only lacked the recognition of others. It’s not true of course. The ladder is real. We have to climb it and keep climbing it and there is no shame in that.
I have written a story for the young adult—the new adult. Heathens. In this story I have shared some of what I’ve learned over the years. It is an honest story. It is true. As authors, the sole quality of merit we may offer the world is truth. We must write truth, not as we see it, but as we find it. Truth must dwell in our stories and rise in our stories. Truth must live and breathe in our stories. That is what we offer the world. We offer truth and story.