You haven’t given me any choice.

There are far more lucrative careers out there --

pretty much every career is more lucrative --

and yet, you didn’t give me a choice. You won’t let me go.

Even when I excuse myself with good reason, tell you I’m doing it for us --

visiting unfamiliar cities and countries, gawking at art, daydreaming in the woods,

gorging on delicacies, bending my ear to listen to the words strangers choose,

cleansing myself by the water’s edge --

You shout until I return. You yell at me to get it all on the page;

you don’t believe I’ll remember the details.

It’s true, I don’t usually remember –

But I also lose notebooks, I lose texts, I lose the little pieces of paper you demand

be written on and tucked into pockets, into purses, and forgotten --

You weed your way into every project. If I find something to do that requires nary a sentence,
you force me to write an outline about it in advance –

which turns into a handout, an essay, a new writing project about the thing

I’m doing to get away from you --

I’m not even particularly good, not even clever. It’s too much work.

I spend hours slogging away to shape an idea into something

a reader might recognize with their heart, only to discover I’ve scrapped together

nothing more than a misshapen skeleton --

a cripple without flesh, without a heart of its own, and so must fill in all the things

I wasn’t smart enough to add the first time. And the flesh is enough, let me tell you.

Flesh has to be new, different unique, surprising –

Fine, I’ll keep going, keep revising, keep reading, dreaming, listening, visualizing.

But the heart! When you call me back to install the heart within that fragile, lifeless skeleton,

that’s when the tough stuff starts, isn’t it? That’s when the real work happens,

and maybe I’ve already been working on this thing for years. Years!
You know a skeleton can consume a year or more!

But it has no life until the heart is placed –

placed and fed oxygen, oxygen in the form of feelings, feelings from me,
feelings I don’t want to feel, feelings I’ve never felt, feelings I can only suppose another human
in that skin might feel --

and it hurts, and it drains me, and did I mention I’m not even particularly good at it?

And the risk! The gamble! The fool’s prayer! I know and you know there are millions,

literally millions of books published every year. The sea of literature out there ensures that what I’m dedicating to the

page will have to fight with its every last ounce of pulp to be read by a scant few –

Book buyers are shrinking, book sellers are shutting down, publishing houses closing,
and yet the book market ratchets up past last year’s saturation point. If it was fruitless before, the gamble feels too great for the pain –

And yet, there you are, calling me, calling me, CALLING ME,
keeping me awake nights with scenes playing out in my head

that won’t stop developing until they’re on the page --

and they grow so huge and colorful and detailed and complex and harder to capture,

capture like I see them in the wee hours behind my wide-open eyes.

And so I’m defeated. You win.

I haven’t gotten as good as you would have expected for all we’ve created together, have I?

I go around calling myself a “writer” because that’s how I spend my days –

Thank God for the works I’ve published because it sure doesn’t feel real.

Even when I sit my ass down and give you everything, even in the bloody concentration

the train goes off the track –

Oh, I see you standing out in front waving your arms,

but I’m trying too hard to finish the scene before I need to pick up the kids

and I can’t fathom what it is you want me to see,

so you make me get up from the keyboard --

and walk, pray, meditate, push chocolate chips into spoonfuls of almond butter --

but you only want me to do it for you.

Because when you call me back in the light comes on. I see what you were getting at.

And it has to be written, right then, or lost forever.

And then I’m late to pick up the kids.

And when I get back home I rush to your page –

only to shush my own family, ask them to wait, wait, wait for me to finish

this one last sentence.



Rayne Lacko


Rayne Lacko believes music, language, and art connect us, and she explores those themes in her novel, A SONG FOR THE ROAD, and DREAM UP NOW: the Teen Journal for Self-Discovery. She’s helped writers and teens cultivate creativity in Writers Digest, School Library Journal, DIYMFA.com, ParentMap, and GERM. Her short fiction appears in GravelMixtape Methodology and Skyline. Her story, “Like Father, Like Son,” won Best of 2015 for its category at Wordhaus literary magazine. 


  1. love this work and love that the editor choose a non-literary image to denote writing which does not have to be strictly literature. the solitude and grace in the picture is also a hallmark of creativity.

  2. Wow, I feel vindicated, like I belong to the club. Such truthful words written in such creative way!

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