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Naked Truth

I am never more naked than I am on a page.

By L.C. SchäferPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 6 min read
Naked Truth
Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

I am never more naked than I am on a page.

Most things I write, I wouldn't show a single soul.

A handful of people have told me that's silly. You write pretty well, they say, Don't sell yourself short.

That's not the point. It isn't that I think what I write is bad. Sometimes it is, though. Sometimes it's bloody awful, to be honest. Other times it's okay. Occasionally I am fairly pleased with it. The problem is, that there is too much of me in it.

Why do you think that's not a picture of me? Did you think that was my real name?

Of course not. You have just burst into the bathroom and caught me in the middle of my bath. Almost all the bubbles are gone. My thighs crossed, mouth a shocked O. My arms are doing a fair impression of a frantic octopus, getting some mileage out of the small face-cloth which covers the last vestiges of my goose-pimpled modesty.

I think I am authentic when I write. I know I try to be. Even as I write that, I'm aware that "try" is the wrong word, and it needles at me something fierce. If the words come out wrong, it feels like fingernails down a blackboard on the edges of my mind.

You're here, so surely you write, too. Don't you do the same? Distil a line down to the words that resonate the sweetest on their way out? I don't know any other way. Keep honing each phrase. Go back to the start, trim away the fat. Buff. Squint at it, shave off a little more. Blow away the chaff. Polish.

Once I've done it, once it fits, once it feels right... it fits a little too perfectly and reveals too much of me. It is a skin-tight jumpsuit which keeps no secrets and forgives no flaws. By the last word, you know me better, in some ways, than a lover. A gyneacologist never knew a patient so well.

I am slightly in awe of people who have their work published, people who work towards seeing their book on a shelf in a shop. People who have their own name stamped across the front cover. Who have pride in it. Their legs in stirrups, clothes folded neatly on an uncomfortable chair. The courage, to bare yourself to all the world like that. To do it smiling! The delicious audacity of it. It skims near to voyeurism - not just to tolerate that level of visibility, but to seek it, to revel in it. I envy them a little.

Gawking eyes of strangers peeling back the covers with easy familiarity or curiosity or affection. Eagerly opening and devouring with undisguised relish. Or discarding callously, as if they didn't hold somebody's soul in their bare hands.

Letting other people see is a mundane kind of pain, I think. I don't mean agony, like a broken leg. No, never so dramatic. More like a stubbed toe, or a paper cut. The little stab of merciless eyes raking over your innermost thought-folds. Or the dull ache of disinterested eyes skittering over your humbly bared self. It's always one or the other, if you open yourself. If you say, "Look, I wrote something..." There is no cringe-free option for the uninitiated. You have a thick skin, if you write. Or you develop one quickly.

Easier, surely, to stuff journals under your mattress. Fritter away words on social media. Spend words cheaply on things that don't matter.

When I nail down the right turn of phrase, I get a sense of what a wood turner might feel when the stars align and a chair leg curves just so. Here is where he has an advantage: that curve isn't an expression of deeply held beliefs. It doesn't betray secrets, or expose fears. There are no hopes, desires and biases to decode in the grain. The craftsman can be proud or disappointed about what he's made with his hands. That's it. It's just a chair. You can admire it or sit on it, but usually, at most, all you can tell about the person who made it is how skilled they were. How much they loved their craft. Unless they carved it with words.

I don't believe any other art form or expression leaves us as raw and open as writing. Any kind of writing - stories, poems, songs, plays. Words are paintbrushes with serrated edges. Writing leaves us wide open like a fresh wound.

Whether people read my words or not, I write them anyway. I write like I breathe. Writing is an imperative. Not just for me, or for some people, but for everyone to some degree. Don't they say everyone has a book inside them? Isn't this the reason? Because we all have a bone-deep drive to talk, to share, to tell stories?

Fish swim. Moles dig. Sparrows fly. I write.

Often, I don't write words for anyone to do anything so vulgar as read them. They are for me, not you. Sometimes I'll eventually push them off the branch, but that can take a while. The more candid the words, the harder it is to proffer them, sheepishly, to anyone at all. Isn't that why greetings card manufacturers make so much money? Who really wants the awkwardness of a heartfelt note? Don't we all wince when the chap with the guitar at the party sings one of his own songs? It might almost be less perverse if he dropped his trousers. Please, man, put it away!

Words are for writing, before they are for reading. They are for having. For pinning down perfectly like butterflies. Rare ones, common ones, exquisite ones, plain ones. It is just a delight to draw them out and see them arranged pleasingly on the page.

Piercing a mind-boil and letting the goo flow is messy and raw. It hurts sometimes... but it hurts good. The deeper I go, the more authentic I am, the greater the swell of soul-pus and ink and the better it feels. Probably the more distasteful to some people, as well. I don't care. I squeeze unctuously. Without thinking, in that moment, of the intrusive and jarring speculum of other people's opinions.

Isn't it funny how speculum and speculate come from the same root? They even sound similar.

I revel in the weirdness and power of words, to puncture or soothe or paint any picture you can imagine.... Prodding at old memories, old wounds, pinching and milking, and letting stuff pour out.

Authenticity is both vulnerable and powerful. I think people are naturally drawn to it. Maybe each person is as likely to hide it under layers as strive towards it. But not, I think, a writer. Even when a writer lies, they tell you a great deal about themselves. It's all stories.

We cannot pull words from a vacuum. The substance has to come from somewhere, and we only have one well to draw from. We spin the words like candyfloss, making almost nothing from almost nothing. No matter how finely we spin it, there's always something of us in there, melting to almost nothing on your tongue.

The water is cooling and red, there is a chill draught on my bare wet skin, and my fingers and toes have turned to prunes. You're still standing here, looking.

I am caught in the oscillation between liking that and really not liking it at all. I live and write there.

Please close the door on your way out. There is a draught, and I am naked.


About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be microfiction

Twitter, Insta Facey

Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

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Comments (15)

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  • Babs Iverson9 months ago

    Awesome!!! Loving it!!!💖💖💕

  • Heather N King9 months ago

    I still feel this way. Laying out your thoughts and feelings are paper (or screen) is scary… I’ll stick to cryptids for now.

  • Novel Allen10 months ago

    I was like that when I started, I feel those first ones were terrible. Glad no one read them much. I got better though, I can kind of separate myself from the words. Just let go and write.

  • Donna Fox (HKB)10 months ago

    This was eye opening for me, I can’t say that I relate in the sense that I’m as leery as you are when publishing pieces. But I definitely feel like I have begun to understand your mind frame and it intrigues me. I really liked the analogies you used in this piece, my favourite one was the wood working gone. It was very original for me, I haven’t heard someone equate their work to a wood worker before! Great work L.C.!

  • Chisi limi10 months ago

    execellent bro

  • F. Leonora Solomon10 months ago

    i love this nude L.C., you might this funny a man told me once that as a writer i have to be a good liar. we are a lot of things to ourselves and people see us as a lot of things as well...but it is an imperative above all...

  • Oh that was excellent! Such a unique take on writing. You know I hadn’t ever thought of it like that. I don’t think I am always like this… but I think I used to be. Not wanting anyone to read my work. At some point I moved past it… but I definitely still keep a lot to myself. And I absolutely do NOT like people reading what I’m writing AS I am writing. In that way I’m similar. But this was amazingly good. The metaphors and comparisons were my favorite, so detailed and spot on. If you write like this, I do hope you continue to share and be alright with others reading and looking because it is definitely worth reading. Subscribing so I can get more!

  • Chloe Gilholy10 months ago

    I loved this because I found it relatable and fresh and raw.

  • Amelia Moore10 months ago

    painfully true and relatable. writing's like having an open wound across the chest that gets stretched wider with every word we put into a piece, and cover this well.

  • Brenton F10 months ago

    That was a beautiful and well very written piece. This line struck me: "For pinning down perfectly like butterflies. Rare ones, common ones, exquisite ones, plain ones."

  • Dana Crandell10 months ago

    Well, I will never again start a new piece without the image of "piercing a mind-boil" in my head! Thank you for this "nude shot" and for not giggling at mine. (Except for the funny ones, of course!)

  • Amy Hallabout a year ago

    I enjoyed reading this piece, well done! I subscribed to you! I am just starting out and would very much like if you have time to read some of my work and if you like it please subscribe! I look forward to reading more of your work!

  • J. S. Wade2 years ago

    Would you believe I close my eyes? Okay. Not possible. One eye? Excellent writing and definitive truths of a writer. Every time I hit submit I feel like I have dropped my pants for the world to evaluate, probe, and rate me. Ahhhh, tis human to be curious isn’t it? Thank you for the brief tour of your bath. I’m enchanted.

  • Suzanne 2 years ago

    What a fabulous essay. You left me with a “just wow” feeling. And this excerpt…perfect: “Fish swim. Moles dig. Sparrows fly. I write.”

  • Russell Ormsby 2 years ago

    Hello my friend. I too have written many things more so for myself than for the eyes of others. These can be unadulterated revelations about myself for myself to really get to know myself. They may not make me a better writer but they go along way towards making me a better person. How would I truely handle a stressful situation? How would I truely feel for instance. It gives you a certain freedom to allow your characters feel a given way. A more honest way I think Thank you for sharing your insights. I gave your piece a well deserved heart

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