“To Be Read with Slowly Increasing Speed” by Rachel Tanner


I mostly feel like I’m tossing documents off a cliff. And when the documents end up at the bottom of the cliff, however far the wind may take them, they’re just trash. They’re litter. They are ruining the world. They are killing the forests. I am killing the forests. I am throwing trash off a cliff. I am posting trash on Twitter and adding “I wrote a thing I’m really proud of.” I am saying I’m proud of something that I won’t be proud of six hours from now.

I am watching everyone else know how to do things. I am reading everyone else’s writing and trying to be supportive. I am in a constant battle with my jealousy. I am trying to keep my attention on anything other than my doubt. It is not working. I am not working. I am on Twitter reposting the poem I published eight months ago. I am telling people how much I love their pieces but inwardly questioning if I really mean what I’m saying. I am in love with everyone else’s writing but I don’t know how to say it and sound sincere.

I am throwing trash off a cliff.
I am the trash being thrown off a cliff.
I am the cliff throwing myself off myself.
I am not making sense. At this point
I’m not sure if I ever have.

Am I the reason art is dying? Am I killing art because I’m not creating art currently or am I killing art because of the low quality of any art I’ve created in the past? Can any of the art I’ve ever created even be considered art? How are other writers so sure of themselves? How do they know their stuff’s not pointless? How do they know they’re not throwing trash off a cliff?

Maybe they know they’re not throwing trash off a cliff because they are watching me throw trash off a cliff and they can recognize that what’s leaving my hands looks nothing like what’s leaving their hands. Maybe they are glad I’m the one killing the forests. Maybe they think my failures equal their successes. Maybe that thought has never crossed their minds because they’re good people. Maybe my art is trash because we are what we create.

I am the trash leaving my hands.
I am my hands holding the trash.
I am trying to hold on and let go
of everything

all at the same time.

I am trying to let myself let go.


Rachel Tanner is an Alabamian writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Memoir Mixtapes, Bad Pony Mag, Peach Mag, and elsewhere. She tweets @rickit.