Out of the Darkness

At times, being an aspiring writer is not always easy, the words don’t always flow forth onto the page as easily as I would like, so I go in search of inspiration where I can find it.  On one particular day when my words eluded me I went in search of a candle, what I found was something buried deep within me, and when my writing was complete I would be transformed.

I know I have one, I’m sure of it.  I ruffle through the drawer—searching for that piece of inspiration that will light the way to my imagination.  Six-tangled-electrical-cords, three tacks, forgotten pictures of birthdays past, and student Picasso’s tattered and worn—there it is—one lone stick of inspiration.

I place the fragile remnant before me, its cold,  fleshy remains dripping with waxy tears, and I wonder how much life remains in this savior of the night.  I peel away flakes of burnt memories as I remember the dark nights when the children were scared and we told stories to pass the time until the light-of-day, or the power company saved us from the fear of night.

One strike, a whiff of sulfur, and it is time to begin.

As I stare at the flame that flickers in the light of day, I am saddened at how the golden flame of hope seems dull, sad, and eerily still.  It cast no foreboding shadow, brings no warmth, and for the moment—no inspiration.

How much has my mind become like this candle, the synapses hardly used these days, withering away into nothings.  How long will it be before the light that once burnt so brightly in me fades away and I too become used up, with nothing left to give the world but a few last flickers from an old man who has been used up by ravages of time?

The flame dances across my soul, burning deeply within the far reaches of the memories of the man I used to be. Drawing up memories of what could have been, if only I had dared to dream.  If only, if only, if only… I had dared to use my talents in the way they were meant to be.

A candle no more belongs in the light of day than I belong in the darkness of a job that has never, will never, and can never appreciate who I am.  As the flame begins to wane, my flame begins to burn brighter. Maybe, just maybe, I can find a way to come out of the shadows and follow the beacon of light to my dreams, and one day call myself a writer.

Today is that day, I am no longer an aspiring write—today I am a writer.

Terry A. Elkins (whyguy)


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Donna Carrick
    Nov 06, 2009 @ 14:48:57

    A beautiful story, Terry. And this strikes a cord, I believe, with many writers. This is who we are: a multitute of round pegs being forced into square holes. We need those livelihoods, that’s true, but we have to take care not to allow them to stifle us, to define us. We are first and foremost writers.

    My daily mantra: All the words are beautiful.
    Keep writing, Terry,
    Donna Carrick


    • whyguy
      Nov 06, 2009 @ 15:28:09

      We are “first and foremost writers”, I believe this to be true with all my heart. I may not be as far along pursing my dreams as you are, but the love of words, and the desire to write is just as strong. One day I hope to follow in your footsteps and not only be a writer, but a published writer as well.

      Thanks for stopping by Donna, I appreciate your support.


  2. Gerry Huntman
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 11:30:15

    This isn’t a story, of course. This is a self-insight. And a very good one. You display two layers here – your period of self-realization that you are a writer, and your literary treatment of the description of the candle, and how it is handled as a metaphor. Both are well done, and synchronized.

    You also run a sub-theme here, about how we all die – like a candle eventually expires, and the importance of making it count. This was subtle and artistic, very good. Perhaps the best part of your piece.

    Your description of the candle and other paraphernalia is extremely well handled – however, one phrase made me think whether it was right – which perhaps means it wasn’t quite. “cold flesh of waxy tears” sounds good, real good, but there is a part of me that says that its some really serious mixing of metaphors. I am thinking that you don’t want to lose the imagery of either components – yes, candle was can remind you of flesh, and yes, dripping wax does look like tears – so I suggest separating them – but with the minimal punctuation as possible. Perhaps “I place it before me, its cold, fleshy remains dripping with waxy tears.” – or something similar.

    Your final sentence has a lot of meaning for me, and I can see how it ties with your narrative. It is a really important message – more than all your words that preceded it. I have read recently a great article by a scriptwriter who, as an aside, stated that money and success doesn’t make a writer – it just makes that person a professional writer. For him, a writer is someone who needs to write, who feels fulfilled by writing, and doesn’t question their status of being one. I use “aspiring writer” or “emerging writer” because the world needs clarifying labels. Maybe, after you reminded me of this so well in your fine narrative, I should just simply call myself a writer. Thank you Terry.


    • whyguy
      Nov 06, 2009 @ 14:35:39

      Gerry, your insights into this piece are astounding, and dead on. I do agree the mixed metaphor is a bit of a problem, although, as you said it sounds good at first blush. This is exactly why a good editorial eye is so important, and I thank you for being that eye.

      I’m glad that you were able to walk away from this piece with fresh insights into your own writing. I must admit I’m a bit surprised that you don’t call yourself a writer just as easily as some may call themselves a detective, a doctor, or fireman, etc…You are one of the finest writers of short stories I have read, and as you know I read a lot. Thanks again for your support Gerry.



  3. Karen
    Mar 12, 2009 @ 16:14:12

    Terry you are a crafter of words. One can see what you are saying. Literally see. It takes real talent for that. I love books that draw you in and it all seems so real. Better than a movie!!! And you, my friend, have that talent.
    even the yuck one!!! LOL


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