writing is dying

by tobias crabtree

i spend a decent amount of time in caves. i sleep there to remember. i spent more than a month in a little cave in patagonia in southern argentina several years ago, that was the year i lost track of my days and missed christmas. caves are one of our oldest forms of shelter; they are probably where we worked out the riddle of fire. i know it’s where i work out riddles like, “why didn’t she stay with me”, and, “how will i ever afford that”, and, “where did i put that spoon”. people wrote on cave walls. i’ve laid on my back and looked at pictures that were a form of writing. there’s one cave down there with drawings painted onto the wall of animals that are extinct running next to men with sticks…someone told me that drawing is 8,000 years old.

stories that are told. stories that are written.

i write. i still write into a book that has a binding and real pages. i also write here, on this screen and i tap letters out and push “save” and “publish”.  the other day i was trying to write, which usually includes a whole lot of brow furrowing and chin scratching, and one of my friends asked me what i was doing. i’m writing, i said. for what? he said. it’s a blog, i said. then the response…oh yeah, the response:

isn’t a blog for people who need attention? hey, look at me! look at me!

i closed up shop. it’s difficult as it is to write anything worth reading. i wrote one of my friends and told her about it all. she’s a writer, one of my favorite authors, and her advice was pure and sound. you see, i wrote words to her and she wrote words back. my words explained my insecurities and she understood them. she wrote words back and they encouraged me and helped me feel better.

words that are written. words that are understood.

i listened to an old author (she was 90 something years old) being interviewed on the radio. she had just finished her final novel and the book was considered her best ever. i don’t remember who was interviewing her, it might have been terry gross, but the author was asked if she would write another book. her response was, “darlin’, i just wrote the book of my life. if i ever write again, it will be in stone with a hammer and a chisel.” she believed in writing! she was writing way before Lol’s and Omg’s and Lmao’s. she wrote before turning a page meant pushing a button or dragging a finger across a screen; turning a page meant reaching up with your hand and using your fingers to pinch the corner of a sheet of paper and turning it and, wa-la! a new page! she wrote and she wrote slow, long hand. i love that.

i have been drawing pictures my entire life. my granny encouraged me to do it and i still listen to her advice. i like drawing on paper. i like the erasure marks and the sketch lines. i like imperfection and it’s a good thing because i am imperfect…sure as hell. i have decided to continue to write (hold your applause, please) even if it’s already been written better by someone else. i will write like i draw, with erasure marks and mumbling and bad grammar. it didn’t stop the writers in the caves and so i follow in their honor.

and blazing suns and crescent moons and barking dogs will have a voice and it will be my pen. long live the hearts that tell the stories.