Wonderful, wonderful news: Princess Leia is going to solve everything from heartbreak to addiction for us mere mortals in a new advice column. Carrie Fisher will have an advice column in The Guardian, and it seems magical so far. There's been a call for submissions, so, if you're feeling like you've got a problem of such galactic difficulty that only a certain female agent of the Rebel Alliance can solve it, then you should probably email Fisher. She especially wants questions or issues from "the younger members of our congested world."
I have a hunch that the column won't just be appealing to those Ask Polly advice column devourers out there, but also to those who are just plain curious about Fisher's life. In the first column, we learn that Carrie Fisher told her baby daughter "careful" so often when she approached curbs and cars that she "came to believe that curbs and cars and other obstacles were actually called 'carefuls'." This won't be an exception; Fisher intends to use her own personal experience as a guide for her advice, warning readers "I can’t help you with your homework; but I can tell you what I did if I’ve had an experience like yours."
All this sounds very familiar. Is it me, or is Fisher positioning herself as the Dear Sugar of Star Wars fans?
Portland based writer Cheryl Strayed (whose unusual name might sound familiar, as her book Wild was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon) took over the Rumpus's Dear Sugar column in 2010, introducing herself as offering a combination of “the by-the-book common sense of Dear Abby and the earnest spiritual cheesiness of Cary Tennis and the butt-pluggy irreverence of Dan Savage and the closeted Upper East Side nymphomania of Miss Manners.” Strayed's star rose as Dear Sugar, with the formerly anonymous writer gaining a glut of fans. This was probably because, like Fisher, she based her advice on her personal experience.
In Fisher's first column, she's completely open about what she's been through:
Hilariously — after all the drug addiction and celebration marriage and mental illness and divorce and shock treatment and heartbreak and motherhood and childhood and neighborhood and hood in general — I’ve turned out to be (at close to 70) a kind of happy person (go figure!)
Similarly to this, Strayed drew on her own troubled past to counsel readers. Like Fisher, Strayed has had her own battles with drug addiction, and, like Fisher, Strayed also had to deal with the breakdown of her marriage. Just as with Fisher's anecdote about her daughter, the strongest and most touching parts of Strayed's writing are those when she uses incidents in her past to guide readers. In her advice column #64 "Tiny Beautiful Things," when she counsels a 20something on what she would have told her 20something self, she writes:
One Christmas at the very beginning of your 20s when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life. Say thank you.
Heavy stuff, right? But it stays with you because it feels genuine. Strayed's not just preaching, she's lived this stuff.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm truly excited to see Fisher tackle the first problem. If she's even a tenth as good as Dear Sugar, this is going to be the most wonderful new advice column of the year, whether you're a Star Wars/Carrie Fisher fan or not.