(Originally posted on writealready2017)
Worry not, dear readers–I may be weird, but I’m not crazy. No–I’m not referring to hearing disembodied voices in the night, or talking portraits, or any such drama. The inanimate objects of which I speak are books–and while we cannot hear them speak, I’m sure you all know what I mean when I refer to those moments when something you have just read–a book, a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence, a carefully chosen word–resonate within your soul. As if the author were speaking directly to you alone.
I try to collect these bright little touchstones of wisdom and power whenever I come upon them–scribbled on a receipt, quickly jotted into a note on my phone, or even just a tiny fold in the corner of the page (I try to avoid this travesty at all costs). But sometimes, I’m so caught up in that moment of connectedness, of sheer understanding, empathy, and commiseration, that I find myself reading on–without documenting the actual words in question…perhaps in anticipation of happening upon another burst of Yes! I totally GET this!
I had one such moment last night, as I finished The Slow Regard of Silent Things, a novella by Patrick Rothfuss. For those of you not familiar with this title and author, I’ll try and put things into context. This adorable tale is really an extended character development for Auri, a homeless (well, homeless in the standard sense of the word), fragile waif from Rothfuss’s ongoing Kingkiller trilogy. Auri exists underground, in a labyrinthine maze of forgotten tunnels, storage areas, and rooms beneath a university for alchemists. We never learn her backstory here, but it is clear that she has suffered some sort of personal trauma in her past, and as a result, her days and nights are filled with very specific coping mechanisms–routines, talismans, safe places.
Throughout the story, Auri is usually able to manage her inner tumult with her tried and true techniques, but at one point near the end of the story, for no reason she can put her finger on, she begins to fall apart:
“Auri looked around the room, all startle sweat and fear. She was tangle and cut-string. Even here…even her most perfect place. Her bed was almost not her bed. Her box of stone so far away. Her lavender no help at all…she looked down at her shaking hands. Was she all full of screaming now? Again? No. No no. It wasn’t her. Not just. It was all everything. All everything unravelding and thin and tatter. She could not even stand. The light was jagged, scraping like a knife against her teeth. And underneath it was the hollow dark…She was just hollow…Everything was everything. Everything was everything else. Even here in her most perfect place. She needed. Please she needed please…
Sometimes when I go to bed at night, I find my mind all aswirl with scattered thoughts and worries–each with an undercurrent of self-doubt, anxiety, and even despair. Like a hurricane of needles inside my head, they poke and pierce through the thin, protective veil of calming thoughts that I attempt to weave, tearing it to pathetic shreds…or, as Mr. Rothfuss so aptly describes it, all unravelding and thin and tatter. (Sometimes, made-up words do such a better job at naming a feeling, don’t they? I recall many a free-write when, in an attempt to keep myself from being bogged down by trying to find the perfect word, I’d just use whatever word came to mind–and sometimes, even if it was nonsense, it just worked.)
Maybe if I strung together all of these magical paragraphs, sentences, and words that I’ve jotted down and saved, I’d see some sort of pattern, a sort of common thread among them. Maybe I would learn something about myself–about my wants, needs, goals, dreams…or not. Maybe they are just brief, jolting passages of sparkling beauty and truth; little glistening gems that spoke to my heart for some reason or other at that moment in time. Whatever the reason, it seems obvious to me now that I should always try to use those moments as inspiration for my writing. And if you know what I’m talking about here–if these words resonate with you–then maybe you should, too.
Now, let’s go write something.