(published in Hedra News)

“See more elk.”

This is a statement my two year old declared on our drive from the mountains.  He saw his first herd, but more importantly, he named them.  He has found his words.  He has found his voice.

“Me JuJu.”

“JuJu no sleep.”



“I love you.”

“I cry for you.”

His words are his source of power.  He can now get what he needs and sometimes what he wants.

As a writer, the ability to name things is one of the most important methods learned.  An attempt to discover fresh descriptions of something familiar with the hope of evoking the same emotion in the reader that one feels when identifying with that object–that is writing!

I’ve avoided writing consistently for a year because of this.  While naming, painting the scene, describing the actions or inactions of a character, my internal struggles rise to the surface and trickle onto the page.  Frankly, I don’t want to look at my stuff.  Still.

We are taught this type of avoidance.  “Say it straight.”  “Don’t be so flowery in your descriptions.”

Technology and academics take our written words and minimize them to short, spurt acronyms that look the same on everyone’s screen.  We lose our voice shortly after we uncover it.

The truth is, we were designed to write, to use our unique expressions of the world around us.  Words give us our sense of self, our sense of power.  They give us identity.

And words cut deeply – within our own self-talk and directly towards one another.

Words are healing.

Words are weapons.

Losing our voice, our ability to not only see the world through our perfect lens, but to be able to explain how we see it in a way that allows us to share, robs us of our creative nature.  This loss steals and damages pieces of us on a soul level.

Published by Rebecca Evans

Bio: Rebecca Evans is a memoirist, poet, and essayist. In addition to writing, she teaches Creative Nonfiction at Boise State University and mentors high school girls in the juvenile system. In her spare time, she co-hosts a radio program, Writer to Writer, offering a space for writers to offer tips on craft and life. She served eight years in the United States Air Force and is a decorated Gulf War veteran. She’s hosted and co-produced Our Voice and Idaho Living television shows, advocating personal stories. She’s also disabled, a Veteran, a Jew, a gardener, a mother, a worrier, and more. She has a passion for sharing difficult stories about vulnerability woven with mysticism and hopes to inform, in a new way, what it means to navigate this world through a broken body and spirit. Her poems and essays have appeared in Narratively, The Rumpus, Entropy Literary Magazine, War, Literature & the Arts, The Limberlost Review, and a handful of anthologies. She’s co-edited an anthology of poems, WHEN THERE ARE NINE, a tribute to the life and achievements of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Moon Tide Press). Her full-length poetry collection, a memoir-in-verse, TANGLED BY BLOOD, will be available in 2023 (Moon Tide Press). Evans earned two MFAs, one in creative nonfiction, the other in poetry, University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She lives in Idaho with her sons, her Newfoundlands, and her Calico.

One thought on “Naming

  1. Rebecca,

    You’ve hit an important vein here. As semantics-binding creatures, we do use words to name…to understand…to create the world in which we live. You illustrate that so well by beginning the article with your two-year-old’s chatter.

    Here we are, these powerful, playful, curious spirit beings experiencing the world through human eyes and ears and fingers–using our minds and voices to paint pictures of the whole drama, and store these images in memory.

    Why should we suppress the raw flow of description when at last the unspeakable begins to express itself through us?

    Perhaps we must give our madman ramblings a haircut, trim the beard and tidy the clothes so they can walk about in the company of others. But…but….in the sacred fecund meadow of creation, let words grow wild and glorious.


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