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A PROBABILITY OF WORDS Text Thomas Lloyd Qualls Photo Lynell Garfield


Let's Talk About Writing.

This is not the sort of thing I do much, talk about writing. Unless you count one of the main characters in my first novel, or several essays I've written, or unless someone asks and I know they are not just making small talk, or conversations I have over dinner with friends, or if I just feel like talking. But other than that, almost never. I dance around words. I pretend to hide from sentences. I tease turns of phrase. It takes me days to pick up a pen. I am a writer. I want to tell you how some days I'm taller than buildings, can stop speeding bullets with my fingertips, carry babies from burning buildings, and write my way out of anything and into anything else. Before you make coffee. But it isn't always that way. Not for me. Probably not for you. Not for anyone else I know. How can I tell you what it means to be a writer? Imagine you knew nothing of science, how would you describe air or what it feels like to breathe? How would you explain to someone from a dry planet that water is wet, or show the colorblind how the sky is blue. I scribble masterpieces on matchbooks. I collect sentence fragments like fairy dust. I watch the world through my own kaleidoscope eyes. I am a writer. To write is to live inside a dream. More than this, 8 Reno Tahoe Tonight

it is to be the dreamer and the dream. To live in a limitless world of seamless dimensions. Writing and dreaming share a common language. Both speak in metaphors, the only suitable tongue for this extraordinary experience called life. I awake from a world of limitless possibilities inside a world of narrow boundaries. I scramble to scribble down the memories of the other side. You and I are metaphors. Along with all we see and do. There is no explanation for life beyond the dreamworld, beyond what we can learn from poetry and from Zen masters. This world is an illusion, a fact we forget again and again and again. Buckminster Fuller reminded us "there are no solids in the universe. There's not even a suggestion of a solid." All else is fantasy. Think about that. To write is to fully embrace the world where the illusion does not matter. A world where things like love defiantly reign supreme. Because love is not the opposite of hate, of fear, of oppression, or inhibition. Love contains all these things and more. This is what Rilke was talking about when he said, "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there." To write is to begin to know. To know is to begin to become. Once you lose the illusion that love, good,