“You don’t show enough struggling in your blogs. I need to see more of the pain,” my friend, Lion, tells me. I call her Lion because that’s what she looks like on her good days. “I want to see the raw parts. I want to hear more about your suffering,” she says, seated across from me at Tamarind Thai Restaurant where I’m giving her a copy of my manuscript. Today is not one of her good days. It looks like she may cry at any moment. I’ve already shifted the conversation to avoid discomfort. How can someone in so much pain and loss stand to see more?
Only a few hours earlier I had photographed Cricket, another friend, leaning on a garden hoe, using it as a walking stick. It was hot and muggy when it wasn’t raining. And in between shots Cricket had retreated to her wheelchair to recover from the effort it took to stand upright for five minutes. But she was determined to carry on with the photo session.
“I want to be tiny in my garden, sitting on the rocks,” she had said. Hence the name Cricket. Afterwards, gathering the garden shots into Photoshop as she looked on, I quickly erased the photo I had not intended to snap, of Cricket wincing as she collapsed into her wheelchair. We watched as the other eighty shots flashed across the computer screen like a movie of her easily traversing the lawn. Before I left, I started to photo-shop together the pretty picture that would make us both smile.
“I want to offer my readers hope,” I tell Lion, over our Thai roasted duck. “They’ll never keep reading my blogs if they have to drag themselves through all my suffering.” But inside my head I wonder if the manuscript I’ve written is raw enough.