top of page

Creative Nonfiction


“Essais,” or Attempts

Lyndsey Kay

The word “king” has been in our language since before the Roman Empire. It comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “cyning” which itself is derived from Germanic terminology. In its most generally accepted definition, a king is “a male ruler of a country,” though other dictionaries most often simplify this definition to “a ruler.” The word “queen” comes from the Anglo-Saxon tradition as well, derived from the word “cwēn,” meaning the wife of a king. In the first readthrough of our high school production of Macbeth (in which I played Duncan) my director asked me, “Do you want to be King or Queen Duncan?” I’d never thought about that before. My friend once told me in a moment of unprecedented honesty that she was jealous of my struggles because, apparently, queer neurodiverse writers currently have a better chance of getting published than straight, cis, white authors like herself. I remember thinking to myself, “If all I were was a writer, I would adore every part of my identity.” The English monarchy has so far consisted of 61 monarchs, 56 of which were male rulers, or kings, and five of which were female rulers. We call them queens, which is etymologically incorrect, but I doubt Elizabeth cares what I think about her title. You don’t know this, but you can name every single female English monarch. Olivia Coleman has played 40% of them. I don’t know if I’m a woman. I certainly am not the queen so many want me to be. I told my director I wanted to be called King Duncan—a ruler without attachment, without marriage, without femininity—and I thrived so much under the ambiguity of gender that I later got a tattoo as tribute to King Duncan and all their confidence to rule a country, fight a war, and be kind all the while. I wanted to be them. I want to be them. Every semester, my fiction professor asks us what qualifies someone as a writer and the class searches anxiously for the artistic answer: “An observationalist,” “a good listener,” “someone who sees the world in black ink,” “a lover.” For the past three semesters, I have written the same sentence in my journal: “A writer is someone who writes.” Perhaps that’s all I need to be. Someone who writes. The title, the pronouns, the lover—they can all come later. If all I am is a writer, I can adore every part of myself.
bottom of page