Sunday, November 2, 2014

In praise of cave walls

(Photo credit: Reticulated Writer)

Even on the clearest nights -- because night is when I write -- I have little control over my words. On the best of nights, the rarest of nights, I dig through the flea market that is my mind and somehow find what Yeats called "the inevitable word." Or words.

I set my words out like a birthday cake I've decorated, hoping the icing won't melt and slip off by the time somebody reads them or that my hair won't catch fire on the candles. I hope someone will say my cake is delicious.

Sometimes my words sit silent and lonely like a fence post in Montana. Or like a shallow grave in the Georgia backwoods, covered with kudzu and blackberry brambles.

Sometimes after they leave me my words are twisted into bizarre shapes I don't recognize. And sometimes they're climbed like a ladder to the top of someone else's agenda. Sometimes I have to defend them --with or without success, but words are my business, not success. Success is less certain even than words.

Sometimes I have to apologize for them after they start a food fight in the cafeteria. Sometimes they've been pounded down so hard inside of me I can’t force them out into the sunlight. "Not safe," they mutter. And they're probably right. Sometimes I need to shelter them under my wing from the eyes of hungry vultures.

All my troublesome, finger-licking words. No matter what Plato says, they are precious to me, and they keep the cave wall interesting so I don’t have to look behind me. I know what’s back there, and it’s best not to give attention to what’s behind me. (I've probably mangled the crap out of that ancient allegory, but Plato's not here to defend himself or his words, is he? Damn, that is some irony right there.)

Being a writer means I can't keep my words to myself no matter how precious they are, no matter how hairless and pink-skinned, so when I set them free to run the confines of this page, I understand that anybody can chase them down. I write here knowing a lot of people will read my words: some know me well enough in real life and some only by what I write here; some agree with most of what I say and some think I'm as nasty as the latest virus; some hate every one of the atoms of my body, and yet my words compel them to come here and read and read and mull them over in the shower; some think I write about vaginas too much and others can't get enough of vaginas; many readers are Russians who googled the word "vagina" or “shaved pussy” or “why is my mother naked” and probably didn't find what they were looking for. Not that I know what Russians are looking for in a vagina search.

I write knowing my these words belong to anyone who reads them once I hit that publish button of no return. They are gone and even if they come home to visit once in a while, I may not recognize them when they ring the doorbell.

I write knowing I will lose control once my words start creating shadows on your walls. It's the plight of any writer who dares to let her little darlings out into the mysterious dark of cave walls and smart phones and Google searches.


  1. Omg, this is a lovely way of looking at it!
    Beautiful post, keep writing..

    1. Thank you so much, Cookie Crumbs, and thanks for stopping by to read. Cool name, btw. You have no idea how much I love cookies.

  2. I appreciate the emotional honesty of your posts.

    1. Thank you, Ralf. I appreciate that you read my late-night scribblings.