Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

toilet-painting-john-geannaris

To you, it’s just a bathroom. It’s utilitarian and cold. Maybe you notice the monogrammed towels or how the mauve soap dish compliments the pink accents on the sconces, but you don’t think twice about it. It’s just a bathroom. You are not a writer.

To us writers, it’s a borrowed domain. It’s a place we mark as our own, temporarily, while we give a part of ourselves away. It’s where we let go, and it’s where we know the darkest parts of ourselves. It’s where we say goodbye to the things inside of us that we thought we wouldn’t miss, but inevitably, even flushing away our waste serves as a reminder of the atrophic nature of life and love. When we poop, we can’t help but think of lost romances defined by the painfully mundane moments in a relationship – the little spats, the tense silences, and the discourteous, dismissive texts that chipped away at our union in infinitesimal increments that collectively lead to its demise. Every flushed shit reminds a writer of the things we thought we wouldn’t miss. We don’t see a bathroom. We see a porcelain and Formica mausoleum, entombing our heartbreaks thus far, through unintentional semaphores of splats and stinks. We see a story.

So we get up, and we retain a little bit of the mess as a keepsake. As writers, we never wipe. We tuck the little flecks of poo betwixt our cheeks and wait for a day where it won’t be too painful to look at them again. Where the smell of a long gone shit evokes hope through nostalgia, rather than an immediate, crushing sense of loss. We yearn for the day when we can reach into our asses, pull out a petrified sheet of poo, delicate like a dried rose pressed in an old novel, and remind ourselves that we are still full of shit, and have plenty of shit to give to the world. We know that a broken heart, however many times over, is just an ass that is waiting to be wiped. We know that an unwiped ass, is the only ass with character.

Read More

by Nicole Mullen for Thought Catalogue

Image via

Tags: , , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

2 Responses to “To You, It’s A Toilet. To A Writer, It’s…” Subscribe

  1. stefan 2014/03/06 at 11:54 #

    But of course, isn’t the trick, not to see the story as opposed to the utility, but rather to see the utility as the story? What if the use of the toilet is precisely to give us a little private space in the public sphere, a place where the individual can go to repair itself while pooping and be proud that it doesn’t wipe? The use of the modern toilet stall is clearly not to dispose of feces: any patch of dirt would do that just as well. It’s particular way of enclosing exposure helps code our experience of individuality, such that we can then imagine ourselves as beings singular enough to be writers. It’s no coincidence that the toilet stall and the voting booth have the same basic architecture.

  2. Ainehi Edoro 2014/03/06 at 12:29 #

    So brilliantly put Stefan!

    Toilets and voting booths? Never would’ve thought of that. But you’re right.

    I’m also wondering whether shame plays a role here.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology | Read e-Book Exploring Millennial Sex Culture and Romance in African Cities

erotic-africa

Much has been said about the state of sex in African literature: whether African novelists are keen on sex, why […]

Zimbabwean Mapping Project Documents the Movements of Dambudzo Marechera in Harare

dambudzo marechera - graph

An unusual mapping project has documented the movements of Dambudzo Marechera in Harare. “Home Means Nothing to Me,” published in […]

Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Passport of Mallam Ilia Gets Animation Movie | Watch Teaser

The Passport of Mallam Ilia - animation

Cyprian Ekwensi’s popular novel The Passport of Mallam Ilia is being made into an animated movie. Premium Times reports that the 2D […]

Yrsa Daley-Ward’s The Terrible Makes Vogue’s Must-Read Books of 2018

yrsa daley-ward - image by Laurel Grolio for Girls At Library

Nigerian-Jamaican model-turned-Instapoet Yrsa Daley-Ward’s memoir The Terrible: A Storyteller’s Memoir has been named among Vogue magazine’s Must-Read Books of 2018. The follow […]

Film Adaptation of Soyinka’s Ake: The Years of Childhood, by Dapo Adeniyi, Tells the Story of the Legend as a Child in the 1940s | Watch Trailer 

Egba women wait on Mrs Kuti at the outset of the women’s riot3

The film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s 1981 memoir Ake: The Years of Childhood is now available on Amazon. Set during the World […]

Erotic Africa: The Sex Anthology Forthcoming in December

erotic-africa

Twelve months after the call for submissions was made in January, we are happy to announce that Erotic Africa: The Sex […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.