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Fan Mail from Prison

The other day, I got a letter from a man in prison. A fan letter about my book, Writing From Personal Experience. The prisoner—I’ll call him James--came upon it in the prison library as he was going through the book shelves, “trying to find inspiration” he told me for his next writing project.

Writing From Personal Experience fell on his toe. ‘Kismet,’ he said.

James wrote me on his 30th birthday. He’s been in prison since age 20. He didn’t tell me why he was there. He came from a good family, lived a good life until heroin addiction and the loss of his first love sent him down a “dark, misguided path.”

His letter is single-spaced, one entire page, filled with kind words about how my book helped him find the words, get to his truths. He said he heard me telling him that he was ‘onto something’ and to ‘dig deeper.’

James mentioned he quit smoking at age 27, managed not to relapse, and shared more about his pain, anxiety, joy in beginning to get his story out, and how important writing has become.

I’m not sure how involved I will be in James’ story and what the future holds for him or for me as his guide.

At the moment, I am truly touched that a man in prison reached out, that I have something to do with guiding him to his words and truths on paper, that Writing From Personal Experience fell on his toe.

Prison or no prison who among us doesn’t feel locked up?

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