writing and self-confrontation with Lefty and Rusty

“The act of writing puts you in confrontation with yourself, which is why I think writers assiduously avoid writing.” – Fran Lebowitz

Though I have on occasion written actual words, to characterize myself as a writer would be an awkward fit at best.  In the same way that, although I’ve been known to wash a dish or two on occasion, my wife would assertively attest to the fact that I’m far from what anyone could reasonably consider a dishwasher.

Yet, I am the actual writer of these words, at least, and the others connected to this production, and happen to find myself feeling the sharp point of the words expressed in the quote above, in spite of the awkward fit.

In any case, here I am, after weeks months away from this place, confronting myself in a relatively weak attempt to quiet the conflicting voices inside my head.

They yell back and forth at each other – the one on the left diligently enforcing the darkness of the soul’s self-imposed lock-down, and the one on the right screaming to throw the doors open to the light and revel in the freedom of expression.

The voice on the left – let’s call him Lefty – lives by the creed of writing wisdom proven generally applicable by centuries of lauded writing experience:  “Stop writing about yourself!  You’re not as interesting as you think you are!” 

When the counter-proposal, made in response to that piercing proclamation, is launched by the voice on the right – let’s call him Rusty – saying, “Fine, then we’ll write about someone or something else!”, Lefty spitefully, and with a venomous smirk across his thin lips, lobs the old standby cannonballs of self-deprecation:  “You can’t.  You don’t know anything about anything else!”; and “Why bother?  Nobody cares about your opinion, anyway!”

As you can imagine, I’m sure, Rusty’s heartbroken response to such vindictive and violent warfare is to tuck his tail and run for cover.

Yet, despite his wounds and anxiety, Rusty is haunted by the yearning – initially, fearfully derided as weakness and pathetic hubris – for the light of the open doors.  Rusty longs for the great outdoors, and the longing builds the fuel of a fire that burns reluctantly, but persistently.

Rusty finally concludes, with a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step, that Lefty is just a big scaredy-cat.

Moved to rebellion by the physically-felt inspiration of all that’s holy and right in the world, Rusty builds enough momentum to crush the locked doors like so much aluminum foil and launches himself into the light of day, completely exposed for all to see, twirling with exuberance in the joys of freedom.

Right?

Well, not so much, maybe.

Rusty still has to write something.

Words are hard to string together in so cohesive a manner as to express the inexpressible depths – the thoughts that form knots in the stomach, that move us to tears, that inspire courage and action, that launch us into love with giddiness and recklessness.

Words are hard to string together.

The soul’s first language isn’t English, or any other language of men for that matter.  We’re always translating its transcendent cries into the broken words of men, filled with holes and tending to lose great portions of meaning in route to destinations unknown.

Realizing, again, that he’s come ill-equipped for the occasion, Rusty slinks back to an awkward respite just outside the destroyed gates of Lefty’s lair, realizing they can never fully contain him, but unwilling to venture too far from their safety net of darkness.

4 thoughts on “writing and self-confrontation with Lefty and Rusty”

  1. The soul’s first language isn’t English; or any other language of men for that matter. We’re always translating its transcendent cries into the broken words of men, filled with holes and tending to lose great portions of meaning in route to destinations unknown.

    Wow. That’s going on my list of quotes along with the likes of C.S. Lewis and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

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