Show & Tell: The Writer's Job

Show & Tell: The Writer's Job

November 12, 2014

I keep feeling like I need to tell you something.

I keep feeling like I need to tell you something—that my job when I sit down to craft this at the end of a full Tuesday (after trying last Tuesday and that disastrous attempt on Thursday) is to tell you something about the world we share.

Of course it should be insightful. Really insightful. Because we’re all busy. Really busy. Who has time for watered-down wisdom?

And it should be musical. Of course, really lyrical. Because we’re all busy. Really busy. And who has time for lackluster prose? (I don’t. Even to make a point, I can barely resist striking “watered-down wisdom.” Pretty terrible, isn’t it?)

I keep feeling like I need to tell you something—that my job is telling. But then I get angry. Because telling work means I’m doing all the work; and, you’re getting all the goods. Why, then, should I have to harvest all the insight? Why should I be the only one tending its rise, punching it down, letting it proof? Why, then, should you get to eat this slice of culture—without sharing any jam from your kitchen?

So I must be wrong. Actually, I know I’m wrong—it’s not my job to tell you something.

I know this because I met a prophet yesterday who told me so. His name is Walter (no, he’s not a dog—or a donkey for that matter) and he came into my backyard yesterday and said it right into my ear.

I’d just had my eyes dilated, so I wasn’t seeing very clearly. They were closed, actually. With my pupils so far open, I couldn’t read (screens were far too violent); the light was too bright for clarity. All reflection was overwhelming. But I sat outside with shades over my closed eyelids because the sun felt amazing.

But I know what I heard. Crisp as an apple, Walter’s voice said, “Dwell with the images.” He whispered that prophets are poets (and vice versa), that images have transformative power because elusive language, unlike telling language, refuses to be reduced to a formula.

Judgment didn’t seem to bother him. He kept laughing. It seemed like a good thing. Like a really good thing.

I wasn’t sure what to do. Walter wouldn’t stay, and I couldn’t get him to answer my questions. I couldn’t write anything down, I couldn’t make anything—I couldn’t see.

All I could do was turn my face to the autumn sky, bless the clouds, and let the squirrels chase after the wind.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up. We don't allow comments that are disrespectful or personally attack our blog writers.

Also in The Waking


November 23, 2021

For my own boots, I’d sit on the floor, pull and heave until my boots came off, contorting my legs in ways that tired adults could not, or would not. 

Read More

Waiting - Ruminate Magazine

November 16, 2021 2 Comments

I think about my mother in the garden hilling green beans, and I asked her if I could go on birth control, and she didn’t say anything, which meant “yes,” which meant “no,” which meant, “I’m hilling beans right now.

Read More

Ett tyst år / A silent year
Ett tyst år / A silent year

November 15, 2021

When we dream, the contours of our memories are rarely sharp. 

Read More