This is a quick follow-up to “Descent.” For an introduction to this series of posts, read “1997.”


A few days ago, I posted my first excerpt from the project I’ve tucked away for ten years. I’ve quickly realized how I’ve unnecessarily paralyzed myself, and I wish I’d confronted these pages a long time ago, so I could have moved on. I told my husband how simply publishing this older piece of writing on my blog and letting it breathe — and interacting with it with footnotes — was so freeing. I let the words out of their cage, and just like that, I let them go.

For ten years, I’ve reshaped the story in my head into something so precious, so grand. It’s a dangerous thing for a writer-who-isn’t-writing to do.


Right now, I’m less interested in exploring the ideas in these pages and more intrigued by the idea of having a conversation with myself — my past self — in public, whether through footnotes, or side-by-side-commentary, or something else.


Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Senior editor at Longreads / Automattic

22 thoughts on “Uncaged

  1. T Bag said we are all captives of our own identities living in prisons of our own creation. Malcomb X say to the Chicago Police, “OPEN THESE CAGES AND LET MY PEOPLE GO” That picture you took called “Uncaged” means alot to people. Especially to us. Girl, we gone dance some more. We UNCAGED tonight!

  2. Writers are individuals that chose to investigate their thoughts through the art of writing. I once read that “she is wild and curious. A cage is no place for someone like that”. I am happy to hear that you freed your cage. Your awesome 🙂 keep going

    Ivy X

  3. Wow, I can absolutely see the dangers of a writer who isn’t writing.. Many times the story changes in my head. So glad you found the strength to liberate this story!

  4. A writer has many facets, and with that gift they are able to connect with more people on more than just a superficial level,growth is also important and when you look at past works now you can see what you have evolved into or a past you that you may even need to revive.

  5. I stopped to look at this one, because of the wonderful photo, but so nice to see that you are giving your past self an airing. I had thought about bringing some of the older things I had written out and dusting them off, this has inspired me to do so. It’s all part of the growth after all.

  6. The comment with your past self could go on for as long as you want, and have universal appeal. So many people haven’t experienced what you have but at the same time they have in a sense, or thought about it, possibly fantasized for it, but relate on a level with their fears and desires you can probe out of your past. I read and riffed off a post yesterday the quote, ‘We are who we are not by what we have but by what we’ve lost,’ from Sam Kriss at Idiot Joy Showland. That’s a fun path to explore and I wish you well in that journey. I say all this because I relate deeply to sitting too long on something; it feels better to stand! Good luck.

    1. Love that quote. Even though in a way it’s quite sad, but at the same time beautiful in that we build ourselves out of things that have disappeared or are long gone, filling holes within us with something new. Bit of a strange comparison, but the act of revisiting a story or idea kinda feels like regenerating a lost limb…

      Thanks for reading, Bill.

  7. I like the fact that after 10 years you decided to write this…. “to let the words out of their cage”. Like you said to have a conversation with yourself. In that way, you are sure to enjoy! And when you enjoy yourself, we feel your vibes!

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