Carlos Fuentes understood me before I understood me

Carlos Fuentes said in a 1981 Paris Review interview:

“When your life is half over, I think you have to see the face of death in order to start writing seriously. There are people who see the end quickly, like Rimbaud. When you start seeing it, you feel you have to rescue these things. Death is the great Maecenas, Death is the great angel of writing. You must write because you are not going to live any more.”

It’s a frightening and glorious thing when someone captures your most essential truth long before you ever knew it to be true.

Long before it could even be true.

Fuentes was right. Some of us see the end quickly, and when we see it, we feel the need to rescue things. Preserve them. Carve them in stone.

In many ways I was fortunate. I did not have to wait until my life was half over to see the face of death. Without my two near-death experiences (one and two) and the armed robbery, I would not be the writer I am today.

I might not be a writer at all.