Mark Twain failed at his first attempt to write his autobiography stating that he struggled to find a way of telling the truth about his life. I understand where he’s coming from. Try it. Seriously. Try writing down a bad moment from your past-how it actually was, warts and all-when you were at your lowest and most helpless. And when you’re done- thanks to the wonders of the internet age-publish it. Put it out there for everyone to see-your weakness, your darkness, the little monster at the back of your head that leads you down wrong paths.
It’s not easy to be totally honest. I started and finished working on Babylon Confidential with that idea in mind. It’s the bits in the middle, where you actually have to put it down, knowing it’s going to be sent out to all the people you know and love, and many thousands more that you don’t know-that’s the tricky part. That’s where the Mark Twain moment kicks in. I managed this by working with my co-author, Morgan. And we worked hard, going back and forth over the audio transcripts and later the drafts of the manuscript, making sure that the words on the page were honest, that my voice was real.
You know when you go out with your dearest friends, the ones you’ve known all your life and trust absolutely-the ones you can say anything to, no matter how revealing, and know that come the next day they’ll still be your friends, still feel the same about you? That’s the voice of this book, the way I talk to you, the reader. It’s just you and me. If I had a problem with my self-image, I’m going to tell you. If I had an abortion or used drugs or was raped, I’m going to tell you. If I was an addict, you’re going to hear about it. And it’s a big risk because I know there are people out there reading the book who don’t know me, who aren’t as forgiving as those old friends, who are going to be disappointed in me, in my moments of weakness. And that’s cool. It’s totally okay. It’s a risk I’ve accepted for a very good reason.
If we’re honest, we know that deep down we all have a little darkness-some more than others-a weakness that makes us less than we could be, that holds us back from following our dreams and fulfilling our potential. My hope is that honest words are like little seeds of light. I hope that those words sit with those of you who read my book. That they quietly grow and that one day, when you find yourself caught up in your own darkness in whatever form it might take (and I promise you right now that if you haven’t been there yet, that it’s coming, that facing the monster is an inevitable part of being human) that my book might help. Just a little. Just enough that you don’t give up and that you keep looking for the help you need to find your way back to safe ground. That’s my most sincere wish and it’s worth the risk. You’re worth the risk.