In the Cave 1

It is such a dense burden – giving birth to a grown up woman. To spare polite society the affliction of observing this most unnatural of labors I feel compelled to retreat into a remote cave in the wilderness where I entered one day and got lost in labyrinth unable to find my way back to sunshine.

It all started seven years ago when I heard that seductive whisper in my ear. Nelly arrived into the reality of my consciousness beguiling me with her story. Each time my imaginary friend arrived, she pulled up a chair, sat down and took her time. I held my breath, anticipating each colorful word and each vibrant detail. Our time together is always blissful, the torment came when her absence commenced. I would abandon me for months and sometimes even for a whole year. I would look at my unfinished novel and give up hope. For several months there was only one chapter, then there were three. For the longest time I had half a novel and no clue where it was supposed flow or how in heaven’s name was ending ever going to materialize. Each time she went away, I would sit around with pensive anticipation waiting for her to come back for weeks and she in return ignored my beckoning. It is hard to face the wall of silence and not give up hope. Life has a way to rush busyness in those nooks and crannies that are sitting idle. This Nelly is a sly storyteller; she demanded nothing less than readiness to listen. An ability to fully receive that which she was aching to impart.

So here I am now. Making the final stretch of writing this novel which has been on slow simmer in the background for what seems like a biblical time. I feel bloated – physically pregnant although I am not. How to give birth to grownup woman? Somebody with fully formed backstory, personality and a set of attitudes that would drive any conceiver mad. This is now the obsession phase. The simmer has turned to a boil. I finally understand what this story is about. I wake up thinking about it, I dream about it, even when I am physically talking to you face-to-face, in truth I am somewhere else. I am inside a cave like a wild beast attempting to deliver a fully formed human to the world.

Recently my husband complained of the burden he felt as a result of writing a reference letter to an ex-student:

“This letter might impact his whole career. I would feel so guilty if he doesn’t get the job as a result of a poor reference letter.”

It was hard for me to feel sympathy for his predicament

“Today I destroyed the life of the main character of my novel and the worst part is yet to come. She has no idea what is about to hit her next.”

“My ex-student is real, your Nelly is fictional”

Without a pause, came my answer

“She is real to me and one day she will become real to others.”

There was silence after that, what can he possibly reply?

What a lofty goal I have set for myself. To write a novel about the cultural clash of East and West. Immigration. The dark work of internet hacking. Art vs. Graffiti. A story about the nature of storytelling. Madness and obsession. A story where the most important narrative is the one that is untold. How to describe something inside silences, omissions and subtle hints? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I choose something more down to earth? I should have written a love story between a vampire and a zombie instead – they would have zombie vampire children and unleash a creative type of brain eating/blood sucking horror on the human race. No! that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted to write something that is both serious and ridiculous at the same time. I feel stupid, humbled and so so inadequate.

So here I am, inside the cave, holding a torch and ready to blow her world into oblivion. I hope I have prepared he adequately for what is about to come. I know that it is for the best, but she will not understand that. She might not talk to me for a long time, maybe never. Perhaps this is goodbye.

Now you know why I have been flaky and absent minded for the last few months. Please accept my apologies. An exit from the cave is imminent.
Ready or not, here it comes. The novel is called Graffiti Hack.

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One thought on “In the Cave

  • Laurie McGarva

    Hi! Elen, The characters in my short stories truly irritate me. One recently chooses wrong men. She has a whole life so far of wrong men starting as a teenager dating a middle aged biker. Now, at age 50, she hooks up with yet another marginal to personally dangerous man. She doesn’t even try to change these guys. She simply survives them. Her chooser needs fixed. Can hardly wait to read Nelly complete. Cheers! Laurie