Keep Writing — Readings at the Rhinoceros Coffee House

Heather M. Edwards
4 min readMar 25, 2022
All rights © Bogomil Mihaylov. Edits mine.

Reading Tom Robbins makes me want to write less. Maybe even quit.

I don’t know why he wears sunglasses all the time like an 80s actor or a 60s singer. Or why he seems to blithely delight in the #MenWritingWomen tropes, anachronisms, and deplorable underage sexualization that land even a kaleidoscopic talent like him in subreddits and other sordid corners of the internet.

But he also describes a man’s face “like a plowed moon sewn with seeds of nettle and narcissus, that pink grapefruit carved with an assassin’s dagger”. He can bring a shredded invitation, a scrap of paint to life: “as silver white as birch bark, and when a sudden draft blew through the tatters and curls, it made a sound like a war canoe moving downstream, like kites fighting.” He transmuted the breath of exhaling in the cold into lace curtains parting.

He has the gift.

Pale shadow of the writer I want to be, maybe I should write less. But I can’t stop. So you should start. Write more.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to cut the perfect nib on a reed pen like some anointed scribe. You’re not a calligrapher soaping paper you made from papyrus. But you are inherently you.

You who swings back and forth, barefoot by God’s most perfect turquoise waters, you have hurtled around island cemeteries, the sun gliding behind dancing fisherman arcing their nets wide like giant spiderwebs across the lake. When you are crossing arroyos toward volcanos and temazcales, time zones toward ancient temples and gold-plated Buddhas what are you searching for? What happens when the music stops? Does the armor drop?

Write about that. Write about jazz. Argentinian saxophone players and late-night piano jams on the beach. Write about street cats and cock fights and roosters bred to die. Fire season. Sex and existential dread and that pitch-black two-lane road through cartel country. Write about your rage. The irredeemable ones. Write about how fucking unfair it all is, why you believe violence, not music is the universal language. Write about what could be, and the two birds buried beneath the tamarind tree.

“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief. All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief.” —…