Annie Heacock

Annie Heacock

A Story by Malia Simon

Why writing must not be sacred


Not long ago, I dedicated myself to stop making writing sacred. Here is why:


         There was a day in my sophomore year of high school that I rode the bus home. It was an usual thing for me to do-- it was only because my car was in the shop and my parents were at work until late that day.

         It just so happened that I sat down next a girl named Annie Heacock , who then was not Annie Heacock but was instead an ambiguous honey-haired skinny creature with kneecaps and elbows wider than her thighs and forearms. Then, I didn’t know her at all. It’s true that I still don’t know her at all, which makes it fundamentally inappropriate to name a piece of writing after her.

         What I do know is, moments after I slid in next to her she said: “It’s funny that you sat next to me, because I was trying to will you with my mind to sit somewhere else since I hate talking in the afternoon.”

         It made me smile, because I hate talking in the afternoon too. So we talked in the afternoon-- about our parents and our most embarrassing hopes and the reason it’s better to cry to songs that aren’t conventionally sad.

         I don’t remember at what point it was that she told me her name, but I remember leaving the bus with a feeling of liking her so incredibly much. I just liked her so much. I enjoyed thinking to myself what a great surprise it would be to see her again around school.

         Then, I did see her again around school, because my school was very small which meant it wasn’t an unlikely event by any means. In fact, I saw her nearly every day because of our apparently reciprocal schedules (I walked to the math hall when she walked from it).

         The trouble was, the first time I saw her again after the bus ride I was surprised to feel move within me a start of embarrassed bashfulness. I did a little wave, which she returned appropriately, but I kept my eyes halfway down and didn’t let them be known in the way they had been on the bus. All times thereafter I avoided saying hello altogether and sometimes even changed my route (though not too frequently, because in my craftiness I accounted for her possible suspiciousness). 

I didn’t enjoy my behavior; in fact, I resented it very much, for it made me feel as if I were a second-grader, or perhaps my father. Initially I believed the reason for it was the unlikely intimacy of our talk on the bus which had stripped me bare, but then I realized I didn’t feel all too stripped. It was something else, which was that I just liked her far too much.

 The trouble with liking something too much is that it becomes sacred and therefore you need to avoid it. It must be the underground truth of Byzantine iconoclasm--idolatry is a crime not because it is a worship of wrong gods, but because the worship itself is wrong. Idealization (and idolization), if a self-preserving mechanism, is no more than fear and avoidance. We worship rather than familiarize ourselves with a thing because to become familiar with it is to recognize the humanity in it. And to recognize the humanity in an ideal is to definitionally puncture it. I wanted only to know of Annie Heacock what I knew on the bus and held in my head as an ideal. Anything else I discovered there on out would surely soil her-- the Annie Heacock in which I believed. And so I was stunned into complete regressive immobility because I liked her so damn much.

Such has been my essential struggle with writing. Falling in love with writing is like this: it’s like exhaling my soul. I have a bracelet made of typewriter keys as some sort of relic. Everything that’s in sex and argument and sadness is in writing too--the world is in it and I can live through it if I choose! But too often I don’t choose, because the sacredness I’ve imposed on it has made me so painfully afraid of it. I’ve never known writer’s block, only a religious writer’s avoidance.

Spirituality, not religion, I once said, was all there was to the sacredness I give to writing. True, there is a difference between spirituality and religion. But only insofar as you’re not indebted to your spirituality. Once there is sacrifice, there is invariably religion. In that sense, spirituality and religion escape inextricability only in the hypothetical realm, in which there is not necessarily a tie between transcendence and extremism. Alas, however, we don’t live in the hypothetical realm; rather, we live in reality. And in reality we do become indebted to our spirituality, because it’s only the natural course of human behavior that we become indebted to what nurtures us. Writing nurtures me.  

I’m rocked.

But it’s time to do away with my religiousness and stop running away and come to writing once again and let it be bad sometimes, because it is an unforgiveable crime to worship something you love. You have to save writing from being subject to your ruthless idealization or it will hate you. God must hate his subjects because they selfishly worship him to the point of suffocating him in perfection. And so if you worship writing, you may love it, but it will hate you. 




© 2018 Malia Simon

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Oh man. This came at just the right time for me to read it. I too have been struggling with writing my novel, and your term of a "religious writer's avoidance" hits so much more well than simple writer's block.
You put this into words that I didn't know needed to be said, and you did it well. You got your point across in the same wonderful style of an Alan Watts lecture and I've walked away feeling the same level of having learned something about myself.
Thank you.

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1 Review
Added on September 3, 2018
Last Updated on September 4, 2018
Tags: essay, writing, confessional, writer's block, short story, religion, dark, philosophical, cynical


Malia Simon
Malia Simon

New York , NY

Novelist, author of Both Hands for Me. Creative writing major at Columbia University. more..