Home > Random Musings > Words and All Their Faults: Is There Still a Hellmouth in Ohio?

Words and All Their Faults: Is There Still a Hellmouth in Ohio?


There are things I don’t talk about here, because it’s the internet. Stories that aren’t mine to tell. Pieces of them may belong to me, but not the whole. I could be clever and cloak them in fiction, but that changes the story. It’s a little known offshoot of the Heisenberg Principle. Really. (Okay, not really. But it should be.)


    I’ve spent years perfecting the art of writing with too much blinding light – so that you had to squint to see the words, and even then, only half of them fell through. The words on the page matter. Nothing else. That is the only thing you’ve to work with. You can infer whatever you like, but if you can’t back it up with the text itself, your interpretation of things isn’t valid.

But that’s only part of my point.

My point is a story that isn’t mine to tell. I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to get rid of it. I don’t even think I could if I wanted. But it needs a place, a home. Something to get it off my mind and out of my hands. (Let’s pretend that’s a possibility.)

Life shouldn’t be a carefully edited story. Life’s a messy, almost ridiculous first draft. There are words crossed out. Pages crumpled in the corner. Sometimes, there are footprints, ink stains, and even notes jotted in the margins. There are bits of unfamiliar languages, snatches of dialogue that no longer make contextual sense, and there are expertly captured moments that were rendered immortal through the stroke of a pen. Or pencil. Or keyboard.

Stories, we hope, last. A novel – our life. We want what is remembered. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or easily understood (Joyce, anyone?) – as long as it remains.

Such is the stuff of personal memories and history. Every misstep brought you here, whenever here is. Every success and heartbreak formed the You that is sitting there, reading this. Would you be different if things were a little easier, if another person never existed within your world? Yes.

But that doesn’t mean you’d be a better you.

Over the years, I’ve realized that circumstances cannot be taken away. The choice is always there. The situation exists. You choose. It’s that easy and that simple.

You love or you don’t. You leave or you stay. You say what you feel or you hide it.

It’s how you handle something that matters – not that you feel love, or grief, or some unlabeled ache.

As a writer, I think you write the story that chooses you. Inspiration appears like freakish lightning, and you deal with it. You try to pull it out of the dust and create something. Sometimes, you end up covered in mud, twitching in the corner, feeling like your Watcher slipped you a potion – and you’ve lost your Slayer powers. Other times, damn it all to hell, if you haven’t beaten the odds, died twice, and STILL saved the world. A lot. (Is there still a Hellmouth in Ohio?)

Life is the same. All you have is a choice. It doesn’t often change the fiber of things – the situation, the problem, the Way Things Are. The Powers that Be are kind of unforgiving.

How you handle something? What you choose to do? That’s up to you. That’s on you.

Some people, upon discovering a hangnail or cold, fly immediately to Twitter, Facebook, or their blog – and broadcast their ills to the world.

Fine. Okay. That’s a choice. That enters into the narrative, though. You are, with everything you do, telling a story.

It’s the words that matter.




  1. Jessica
    February 9, 2011 at 9:57 am

    The first few paragraphs of this entry reminded me of something I wrote a couple months back about wanting to write a story that wasn’t really mine: http://walktotheedgeandfly.blogspot.com/2010/12/not-my-story-to-tell-question-of-ethics.html

    It’s a really frustrating feeling because I want to write about things that have happened to me, but the story isn’t funny and doesn’t make sense if I start changing it in order to protect the innocent (or, in many cases, the very, VERY guilty).

    So what do I do? Do I never write those stories for fear of angering someone? Or do I accept the fact that my life experiences are always going to involve other people, and that it’s not wrong to write about it. I don’t know.

    • Ali
      February 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

      It is frustrating. As far as I’m concerned, cloaking a personal story in fiction can work — but it’s often hard to do. A lot of great writers have done it, though. Roman a clef. I know that’s supposed to have accents, but I’m lazy.

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