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Why I Write Books

09/26/2013 10:26 EDT | Updated 11/26/2013 05:12 EST

There are four things I keep nearby at all times, generally in my pocket. 1) A photo of my now six-year-old daughter taken when she was one and in a Chinese orphanage. She's sitting in front of a wall in front of a block building. 2) My Food Stamp card from 1973. It keeps my humble. 3) A card Julie Sheppard from Wichita, Kansas, gave me after a reading. It says "I Am a Professional Woman -- Don't Fuck With Me." And 4) this letter:

Mr. Sandlin, Last Saturday nite my fiancée flipped her motorcycle into a parked car. I held her as she died. I've spent this week sitting in our big, quiet house listening to the tapes we made together and I happened to pick up a book you wrote. It's important that I tell you how much Social Blunders has meant to me. People dealing with death, and sex, and love in a way that really makes sense. You make me feel less alone and I wanted to say thanks. P.S. Her name was Cyndi. She was 29. She really liked your books too.

I still can't read the letter without weeping.

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