Lorde’s “Writer in the Dark”: A Testament to the Art of Writing As the Ultimate Weapon for Avengement

Women might be the last people on this earth with a soul left. This is often why 1) they gravitate toward the field of writing as a form of release (as opposed to the more male motive of grandiosity) and 2) they are capable of expressing emotion through the medium in what men might describe as an overly bathetic and/or bleeding heart sort of way. This is one of the greatest risks a person can take in succumbing to the charms of a writer, expressly because she’s likely to use him for her work at a later date–regardless of whether or not he inevitably fucks her over.

What so often happens to the woman scorned (Sylvia Plath, Cynthia Lennon, Anaïs Nin, Beyoncé, et. al.) is that she essentially “breaks in” the man who decides to leave her or step out. He then turns to another, “simpler” girl (it’s the standard Katie Morosky in The Way We Were plight) that at least won’t use him as fodder in her work. It is as Lorde sings, “Break the news—you’re walking out/To be a good man for someone else/Sorry I was never good like you.” “Good like you” in the sense that Lorde, as a writer, has never been capable of censoring the personal aspects of her life for the sake of sparing the feelings of her significant other and, now, ex.

In an interview about the content of the song, Lorde stated, “It’s not a historical document. It’s not a police record. It’s not journalism. I didn’t go to journalism school. I’m a writer. It’s about what I felt and sometimes you can feel an element of guilt or ‘Oh God, I shouldn’t have immortalized that person,’ but the song is my way of saying ‘It’s what I’ve always been. It’s what I was when you met me. It’s what I will continue to be after you leave. That’s exactly what was going to happen when you kissed a writer in the dark.'”

And for most men incapable of enduring just how candid a female writer can be (in ways she so often can’t be without the page to help her bare her soul), it’s as Lorde says: “Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark/Now she’s gonna play and sing and lock you in her heart.” Locked in her heart and the hearts of many in that there is nothing more resonant to the masses than the commemoration of a woman’s pain. Alas, not everyone has the courage and boldness of a writer–for it takes strength to be honest about one’s emotions and not worry about whether or not it will drive the person you love most in your life away. While Lorde’s great love might not have been able to withstand the public scrutiny that comes with being her boyfriend, she nonetheless declares, “I am my mother’s child, I’ll love you ’til my breathing stops/I’ll love you ’til you call the cops on me.”

This is what subsequently what fuels the female writer anew, this desire to find catharsis over the heartbreak through art. Hence, “But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power/I’ll find a way to be without you, babe.” That way, unfortunately for callow men everywhere, is through canonizing the torment in all aspects of a woman’s work–which is never done when it comes to achieving emotional extirpation. And while this may never be able to truly happen (when a woman genuinely loves, she loves forever), there can be no denying its moneymaking propensities. It works for Lana Del Rey and Adele, too.

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