Monologues Musings


So you want to write.  A poet, a playwright a storyteller, a magician!  And to write, you think you have to be a sociologist, an environmentalist, a psychologist, an observer of human behavior, and a scholar too!  Well, prove it.

The least you could do is pay attention to me.  How would you like to be covered up like this, not knowing the light basking in the colors of this universe?  Go, go!  Traipse around to your meetings.  Clean your bedroom closet, bake chocolate chip cookies, snore through “Creature Features.”  It’s cruel. That’s what it is.  I demand my rights.  I should start a society for the prevention of cruelty to typewriters.

            You’d squawk, wouldn’t you?  You’d bombard your congressman. Whoops, I mean congressperson, wouldn’t you?  If a million typewriters camped on your doorstep staging a type-in going “clickety clack clackety clack clack” driving you up your chimney until you poofed?  How can you plan a great escape when you adopted me, installed me, a permanent fixture in your own home?

            Bah.  You’re soft.  You’re strawberry yogurt dripping into a Styrofoam cup.  Expecting miracles, jackpots at South Shore.  Sure, sure, I’ve met types like you before.  A few poems, a few stories, a moth-bitten play.  Then suddenly, it’s Hollywood and Broadway?  Aren’t you getting a little confused about being a writer?  About the work you must do to write?

            Well, here I sit, doomed to a sedentary life.  Lift my cover.  Look at my faces, the profiles, noses, protruding lips.  I could be your grandmother, your lover, your child, your mother. The devil, if that’s what you want.  But no.  You believe in angels.  And you believe that angels disguise themselves as human beings. With foibles and weaknesses. With perseverance and strengths.  But you want to put wings on people.  You, to put it simply, want a state of perfection, utopia, eternal sunshine and toucans blissfully feasting on fruit from palm trees.

            Hey!  I’m a typewriter, remember?  A tool.  Of course, writing isn’t easy.  Of course, there are social problems.  To stop rape and violence against women.  To stop cultural genocide against Asian Americans, to stop oppression against Blacks in the workplace, against gays in the street, against women who want to control their own bodies, their own lives.  Humph!  You are a worrywart.  You want to do everything, but you only have so much time, so much energy.  And you want some kind of balance, some sense of what you’re doing as a part of the people’s movements.

I can’t solve everything for you.  But, if you want to write, you must write.  Don’t hold grudges.  Stop the resentment.  Sedition, erudition, tradition. And you worry about literary tradition when you can’t find an early novel by an Asian American woman.  When you can’t find a copy of it on the Asian Community Library’s shelves.  So, why are you taking it out on me?    Help!  Free the Typewriter One!  Don’t condemn me to the land of silence because some people don’t believe in Asian American culture, in Asian American art and literature, in Asian American sensibilities.

Afraid, aren’t you, chirping like a canary and wearing the mask of a warrior?  What’s the matter?  Can’t face a blank page right here in my body?  Can’t write your own stories without worrying about what others think, your words, your ideas?  Afraid of failing, of being ignored, not being good enough?

Type. Damn it!  I have no legs, no hair on my body, no blood running through these rusty parts.  But I offer you something.  Purpose. Life. Art.  Intertwined.  Can’t continue living like this. Can’t survive on my own.  I have to be nurtured, encouraged, tested, loved.  Oiled, tuned.  Yes, I have the power to give you a letter, a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a song.  And history too.  Let’s go for broke!  But I can’t imprint myself.  Sooner or later you must confront me.  Sooner or later you’ll have to look at me staring at you with my eyes.  Yes, I said, eyes, not one eye but a thousand golden eyes beaming you wherever you stagnate, hibernate, wherever you roam.  Sooner or later you’ll have to square with my wide metal body, my carriage, my keys, a comradery of soldiers, a suit of armor itself,

You can sing.  Act.  Slip in and out of your own characters’ skins, become water and wind, sun and earth and fire.  Not chasing after ghosts, illusions, but seeking the truth.  Not flopping around in those high-heels that will kill you, but running with bare feet.  You can pose in front of your three-way mirror. Be a ballerina, a flamingo.

            Use my memory, the backspace; my dreams, the return; my point of view, the shift; my vision, the lock; the set, my joy, the clear.  Now, walk toward me.  No!  Leave that wiggling to those models beating pots and pans singing “I’m an Enjoli woman” on TV.  I could tear my wires out!  I could chomp on my warranty!  I could live out the destiny of a machine and land up in some junk shop.  But I’m challenging you.  Yeah, that’s it.  I think you’ve got it.  Your posture’s not bad when you concentrate, when you hold your head up high.   Now, sit ‘er down.  It’s your body.  Eyes of a hawk, instinct of a lion, heart of a dolphin.  Now, raise your hands.   Make love.   My faces will tingle at the rain of your fingers.

You and I. What a team. Night after night, fencing and jousting. Breathing.  Two hoofers tap tap tapping along. Just hard work, will, and courage.  We’re partners.  Me, perched on your shoulder light as a tickle in your ears singing, “I’m always true to you, darling, in my fashion.  I’m always true to you, darling, in my way.”  Now smile, poker face, spread your wings and come on home.

Nellie Wong

© 1980 Nellie Wong