the key that unlocks oceans.

{this piece came out, raw and ready. no clean up or cool down. just the words that needed to be born, right then. the kind of freewriting that shoots out, whole and complete. stream of conscious, unconcerned with structure or style. just knowing that the words must be released, exactly then and exactly this way. and in that, in the answering of that imperative, something deep is healed}

Listen while you read: 

Yesterday I was given a song. And it turns out this song is the key that unlocks oceans. Oceans of tears and oceans of words.

I sit here tonight, candles lit and whiskey poured, as usual. But it is not the muse I am calling. She can’t do her work here. Not tonight. No, the muse stays far away on nights like this. She knows me. She knows better. She has better things to go than mess with me in this state.

This work. This music. This night. This is my time to dance with the ghosts. To open a file that I started writing over a year ago. That I started writing over nine years ago. That I started writing when I took my first breath.

I’ve been a writer that long, you know? I just didn’t know it yet. I didn’t know I was a writer until long after I had words. But the stories were forming even then. Forming and waiting for a friend who would give me a song that would play on a night that would call the ghosts that would unlock the words like a torrent without form or care for what they must become. Just that they must become.

Like the river has no idea what it’s rushing for, even when it tumbles headlong into the ocean. it just does that it must and these words tonight, they do what they must. They must become because all the other stories that also must become are locked behind this story. The one that began tonight that began nine years ago that began when I drew my first breath on this earth. When I took my first breath on this earth and I was already a writer who didn’t have words and I had not yet left and I had not yet broken. This was before the undoing and the doing and the damning, you see. Before. Everything was possible then.

I take a gulp of whiskey, fumes burning my nose. The burning is part of it you see. Swallow. Sweet honey heat of relief for just a second before the music swells and the flames dance and the tears that have been falling for hours just keep falling. The words push again. Clambering one over and under another, looking for the space where fingers meet key meets page meets truth. This piece of writing – it was supposed to go somewhere – it is due, it past due – it is past-past due, and this is the last chance. But these words, they are going nowhere. They are going everywhere. They are just going. Going and going and going. Over an under and through.

Through. I tell the participants in my writing workshops not to write their way into their stories, but to write their way in and down and out and through. I tell them that like I know anything about how this should go. I don’t know anything about how this should go. But this story, this music, this night – there is no out and through, there is just in and in and in and more and more and the music that repeats and repeats for hours and words and words that won’t go together and won’t make sense and won’t be subdued or tamed or made pretty. Neither will this story. It is not a pretty story. This is a story that began tonight that began with the song that began with the whiskey that began with the candles that began nine years ago that began when i took my first breath.

I was already a writer then. Did i tell you that? Of course I did. It is important to the story.

Not this story. I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to confuse you. This story doesn’t care that I am a writer. Or it does not believe it. Or it wants it not to be true because this story doesn’t give a fuck what I call myself. This story is not concerned with labels or names. It only cares what i have done and it needs me to tell the truth and I don’t want to. I don’t want to. And so the night and the music and the candles and the whiskey and the tears and the words and the ghosts they are all push-pulling at one another and at me and at this story.

You know this story, right – the one that began tonight with the music. The one that began nine years ago when I left. The one that began the day I took my very first breath.

The story that has thousands of words already that make no sense at all – just a mad jumble of memory and make believe – just like every story is a mad jumble of memory and make believe. Every line of this memory make believe story is reducing and reducing and reducing until there is nothing left but this word. Over and over and over again.

forgive. forgive. forgive. forgiveforgiveforgiveforgive.

The only problem? I don’t know how a writer writes her way into forgiving herself. I didn’t go to school for this, you see. I don’t know the rules.

I don’t know the answer and so I don’t know the ending and you know I already don’t know the beginning and so the music plays and the candles burn and the tears fall and the words keep pouring out. over and under and around. And me and the night and the whiskey and candles and this music and the tears and the ghosts and the words and the words and the words, we keep circling and circling and circling.

Writing a story with no definable beginning and no path to the end.

Just writing. Endless. Like the music and the whiskey and the candles and the night.

But lest you think this is a sad or hopeless story – let me remind you of one important thing. Yesterday I was given a song. And it turns out this song is the key that unlocks words. Oceans of tears and oceans of words.

Some stories, you see – they need to say the same thing over and over again so that their writers finally write their way into truth of the make believe they spin. Into and out and through.

I was born a writer, even though it took a long time for me to know this. Did I tell you this? I think, maybe I did.

Forgive me.


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I swear like a sailor, I've been called a word-witch (more than once), I believe whole-heartedly in the power of your voice,  and think words are as necessary as air. I work with humans who are seeking permission to stop seeking permission and offer programs that will get living and writing on your own terms (for reals). 

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