Why Write?

“…the question isn’t How to survive? The question is Why survive? For me the answer is that writing makes my heart pound, my hands flutter. It still makes me hungry and desirous and fearful. Because I need the honest beautiful grotesquerie of the world, because I want to stay sensitive. I want to wallow and bounce…” –Harriet blog

this ties right in with my post on the desire and almost addiction of writing: Love Your Scribbled, Secret Notebooks

Love Your Scribbled, Secret Notebooks

I used to write sad, short, unassociated erotica when I was like…..a fourteen year old Catholic school girl. I’d wait for a quiet empty house when the family was away or out. I’d write the words lightly in pencil so I could erase it. At that time in my life all of the stories centered on lust–which to me was just scribbling whatever would cause that physical rush through my body. I wanted romance but only a romance that had a specific goal–caressing and touching, kisses and naughty terminology and oh my I thought I was going to burn in hell. I believed that that’s what love was. That it had nothing to do with yourself.

Kerouac's first belief....
Kerouac’s first belief….

It was my secret. Now I’m trying to find that mastered fear and write like that again, no erasers for me. But I felt that same fire the first time I learned the hard way what justice meant for the unjust. I felt it the first time I felt power in my talent. I felt it in the first and last time I was abandoned, left to the wolves. Or the last time someone held a mirror up to my eyes and I didn’t liked what I saw, and I ate change like Lady Lazarus ate men.
For those of us who know that deep burning, driving, nameless desire–then it’s no shock to assume that for you as it is for me, it changes shape and form but never its taste. When I went mad and almost killed myself, it was there too–that taste. I tasted nothing for years, a good ten years, and then, there it was, right at the back of my tongue while they shot me up with anti-psychotics and a sedative. In the wild deathless chase to the end, turns out I wanted to live. And so, as there was nothing left of myself I hadn’t destroyed, I used what was left–that small spark. I couldn’t figure out why it was still there, miniscule. It took five years for me to see its growth. I began nurturing it, I bent over it in the dark like a shawled mother owl hovering against the slightest change in wind. I told no one. Because who would have believed me then? I certainly didn’t know what I was doing, what happened to the girl I used to be, or why I was there, existing in a shitty apartment, like a fucking caged animal half-beating. Job, college, fiancé, car, house, all that I thought it took to make the package–gone. And that’s the less painful part, because I hadn’t been living for those things or even in them. I had let myself become so afraid of myself and my wants and needs, I had alienated myself so far. I had let the monsters in my head torment me, instead of show me. And after the six or so years, I took that desire or whatever it was and built a woman out of it. Out of me. And here I stand. Hungry.

Scribbling our lives away in jobs and homes and with the process of doing, but that fire– it is the same feeling and same need for release. This is why I write. The harder I write, the more intoxicated I become, and the bigger the need. I think it’s pretty safe to say that that is why artists starve. But I do know that because of it, I am more alive than I ever dreamed possible.

[Kerouac’s Beliefs & Techniques for Writing]
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Memoir Tips, Quotes, & Books

Working on my memoir, I’ve turned to many, many (many many, too many) books with tips on how to get started, organized, and inspired.  I also read a lot of what other authors say about the process and will share quotes here, as well.  I’ll begin with my favorite quote, well, one of them.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love questions themselves like locked rooms or books written in very foreign tongues.  Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them…live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  –Rainer Maria Rilke

So here’s a list of the books on writing creative nonfiction/memoir that I’ve found to be the most helpful.  Sadly none of them are writing my book for me.

I realize I’m giving away the fact that I’m desperate and may have no life,  but hopefully  you’ll find the list helpful.  Ernest Hemingway I believe said that you only need to find one true sentence.  That’s the toughest part about writing I think.

Here’s a picture of my writing journal that I keep notes, quotes, Read More

Writing Tips and Quotes

Here is a list of many essays, articles, quotes, and links on writing advice, tips, theory, and thought.

faulkner_publicity_san(from 23 Tips from Famous Writers)

“Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.” ― William Faulkner

“You either have to write or you shouldn’t be writing. That’s all.” ― Joss Whedon

Ray Bradbury

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury

“One doesn’t become an artist overnight. First you have to be crushed, to have your conflicting points of view annihilated. You have to be wiped out as a human being in order to be born again as an individual. You have to be carbonized and mineralized in order to work upwards from the last common denominator of the soul. You have to go beyond ity in order to feel from the very roots of your being.” ——The Tropic of Capricorn

“Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it–don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist–but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.” –Hemingway

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” ― Alan Watts

Tell It Slant: How to Write a Wise Poem (poetry foundation): “The essence of poetry is the unique view—the unguessed relationship, suddenly manifest. Poetry’s eye is always aslant, oblique,” says poet Josephine Jacobsen. What I am arguing for is a degree of obliqueness sufficient to allow the mind to rest on something else, something unexpected. To be oblique is not the same as to be opaque. Obliqueness refers to angles and slopes, to geometry that is not parallel. “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” Dickinson reminds.

Czeslaw Milosz said, “To write a wise poem one must know more than what is expressed in it. Consciousness leaves every means of expression behind. Hence the regret that we will remain sillier in human memory than we were at the moments of our acutest comprehension.”

How to Be a Bad Writer (Harriet poetry blog):

Check out this post from This Recording that collects “on writing” statements from a number of writers, with some cool photos. Here are Langston Hughes and John Ashbery’s entries. Follow the link for the rest!

Patricia Spears Jones (and she loves her blues) and her BLOG

Writers on Writing: 12 Writers Discuss the Writing Process (like KNOW YOUR GENRE!):

  • Donald E. Westlake
    “In the most basic way, writers are defined not by the stories they tell, or their politics, or their gender, or their race, but by the words they use. Writing begins with language, and it is in that initial choosing, as one sifts through the wayward lushness of our wonderful mongrel English, that choice of vocabulary and grammar and tone, the selection on the palette, that determines who’s sitting at that desk. Language creates the writer’s attitude toward the particular story he’s decided to tell.” (January 2001)
  • Elie Wiesel
    “Acutely aware of the poverty of my means, language became obstacle. At every page I thought, ‘That’s not it.’ So I began again with other verbs and other images. No, that wasn’t it either. But what exactly was that it I was searching for? It must have been all that eludes us, hidden behind a veil so as not to be stolen, usurped and trivialized. Words seemed weak and pale.” (June 2000)

Advice on Writing: the collected wisdom including books on the art by famous writers (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Didion, Sontag, Vonnegut, Bradbury, Orwell, and other literary icons.)

“Understanding is not a piercing of the mystery, but an acceptance of it, a living blissfully with it, in it, through and by it.” –Henry Miller

Miller begins by relaying his journey of discovery, that essential and infinite process that helps us transmute information into knowledge and wisdom:

Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become the path himself.

I began in absolute chaos and darkness, in a bog or swamp of ideas and emotions and experiences. Even now I do not consider myself a writer in the ordinary sense of the word. I am a man telling the story of his life, a process which appears more and more inexhaustible as I go on. Like the world-evolution, it is endless. It is a turning inside out, a voyaging through X dimensions, with the result that somewhere along the way one discovers that what one has to tell is not nearly so important as the telling itself. It is this quality about all art which gives it a metaphysical hue, which lifts it out of time and space and centers or integrates it to the whole cosmic process. It is this about art which is ‘therapeutic’: significance, purposelessness, infinitude.

From the very beginning almost I was deeply aware there is no goal. … With the endless burrowing a certitude develops which is greater than faith or belief. I become more and more indifferent to my fate, as writer, and more and more certain of my destiny as man.

“Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound.”  –EB White —

In one, predictably, White remains true to the book’s overarching ethos, reminiscent of David Ogilvy’s famous 1982 memo on writing, and makes a case for clarity:

Dear Mrs. –

[…]

There are very few thoughts or concepts that can’t be put into plain English, provided anyone truly wants to do it. But for everyone who strives for clarity and simplicity, there are three who for one reason or another prefer to draw the clouds across the sky.

Sincerely,

E. B. White

Zadie Smith: “Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand — but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.”  

John Steinbeck on writing (taken from brainpickings)

steinbeck1

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

But perhaps most paradoxically yet poetically, twelve years prior — in 1963, immediately after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception” — Steinbeck issued a thoughtful disclaimer to all such advice:

If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that make a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.”

Annie Dillard: “At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then — and only then — it is handed to you.”

Dillard begins:

When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year. anniedillardYou make the path boldly and follow it fearfully. You go where the path leads. At the end of the path, you find a box canyon. You hammer out reports, dispatch bulletins. The writing has changed, in your hands, and in a twinkling, from an expression of your notions to an epistemological tool. The new place interests you because it is not clear. You attend. In your humility, you lay down the words carefully, watching all the angles. Now the earlier writing looks soft and careless. Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.

Anne Lamott: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

jack-kerouac

Jack Kerouac’s Belief & Techniques/Rules for Spontaneous Prose:

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy

2. Submissive to everything, open, listening

3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house

4. Be in love with yr life

5. Something that you feel will find its own form

6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind

7. Blow as deep as you want to blow

8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

9. The unspeakable visions of the individual

10. No time for poetry but exactly what is

11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest

12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you

13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time

15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog

16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye

17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself

18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea

19. Accept loss forever

20. Believe in the holy contour of life

21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind

22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better

23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning

24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge

25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it

26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form

27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness

28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better

29. You?re a Genius all the time

30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

(taken from LitDrift)–and I have these rules taped to my kitchen cabinet

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Ideas for Writer:

She offers inspiring writers some practical (and perhaps not-so-practical) tips:

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.Canadian author Atwood poses for a portrait in Toronto

4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.

5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but –essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a –romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10. Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualization of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

Originally published in an article in The Guardian.

My Brain a Splitting Continent

The sun has set and I am standing on the back porch, leaning over the railing.
I hear the screen door creak, his heavy boots sliding.
“Are your friends picking you up tonight?” The nicest question he’s asked in a while. He’s imploring about nonessentials. Something is coming. A faint alarm spins my gut.
He leans against the house under the yellow glow of the porch light and I turn so my side is toward him—I don’t want my ass in his view, and I can read his body language this way. His arms are crossed over his plaid belly, hands under his armpits. He’s nervous.
Hesitating, “Amy, I want to tell you something.”
“What? ‘Is Jeremy going to be there?’”
“No. I trust you.”
Silence. The crickets are loud this spring. I hear the frogs mating out back behind the pole barn. Beyond the tree line, a semi’s headlights float.
“That’s a shocker,” I smile at him. He smiles back and makes room for himself.
“Amy, what are you going to do with your life?”
My smile ends. I look down at Kurt Cobain on my black t-shirt, and hear
“…‘nothin’ on top but a bucket and a mop and an illustrated book about birds…”
I look into the railing’s grain. “I dunno. Why?”
I cannot fully absorb this question. What was I? Who am I but space? I cannot entertain this.
Silence.
I feel his presence suddenly. The atmosphere has changed. “I want you to know something—something I think no one tells you—you have so much potential in you, Amy–so much more than your sisters. You’re talented, you’re smart, you’re brave. There are so many things about you that you will use in this life and you don’t even know it.”
I turn my back to him and watch the tear seep and spread into the wood. Come on Lori…
“I just wanted to tell you that, because you don’t know. Because you act like you don’t care. Because I…”
What is paternal love but the sick twisted measure of a man? I do not know. I think of Jeremy when he says this, and I feel a sickness colliding with compassion for my stepfather. For the quickest moment of my life he is not a monster. He is human. It’s almost love.
The moment passes and I imagine him looking at my body again—yet something in my heart tugs, 16something that has always been a mystery and desperate for me.
“Thanks,” I say coolly, as if in passing. I can’t look at him. Headlights, bass. “Lori’s here.”
“Ok. I just wanted to say it. Have a good night.”
“Thanks,” I say without looking at him and skim down the steps toward the car, heart pounding.
“Hi my Jo-Jo Bean!” Lori smiles, her bouncy self turning down Tupac and putting the Buick in reverse. Night slips around me, the only light from the dash. She hands me a cigarette.
“Hey turn that up,” I say and smile. As if nothing had happened. As if I would forget this.

* * * * * *

I save up for a stereo. It is three hundred dollars and two and a half feet wide. I clear off my dresser with the scarves draped over it, Kurt Cobain on the wall in back. I take my time with my prize; my favorite possession. Speakers hooked up, red to red, black to black. I inhale its plastic newness, the luxury. I open up the four-disc changer and gingerly place Lynrd Skynrd in “disc 1.” I skip to number seven and as the electric guitar starts I gauge the volume by the round knob. My stepfather knows I am angry, so the loudness is acceptable today.
...if I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me…
I turn it to the right more, until my chest can feel it. It’s the only thing I can feel these days–physical vibrations. The lyrics take me outside myself. I think of Forrest Gump–Jenny standing on the banister of the balcony before her shoe slips. I know that–the curiosity, almost psychotic. No feeling. No thinking.
Next comes “Rage”–Paul York’s take on Bach and the angry, almost cutting violin terrifies me, like a slice through a vein. I want to play it. I see my future in it. I want to be afraid. I want to feel, fear, cry. Anything. (FYI –THIS SONG, RAGE, STILL TERRIFIES ME)

I go to the full-length mirror by the door, a pile of purple and blue eye shadow on the cement floor. The dim light from the lamp shines in the mirror behind my head. I stare as I always do. Waiting for something. I take the shadow applicator and press into the purple powder, as purple as the crayon. I stroke it beneath my eyes and around one, so it looks bruised. Then I hollow out my cheeks, defining the high cheekbones in darkness. I am satisfied and go up the basement stairs to show my family. My stepfather Scott and older sister Nikki are in the kitchen. My mother cross-stitches in the dining room by the bay window. I walk around to face her and wait for her to look up.
“Mom? Can I go to Janelle’s?”
“Yeah,” she barely speaks through pursed lips–a thin white line. She doesn’t look up. I watch her dry, knobby knuckles bend and pull the needle to the dark thread, punched through and in the hooped fabric.
I go back to the kitchen. Scott looks at me, then my chest. He is pale. Read More

A Literary Kick (books, links, poets and authors)

I’ve been on a crazy literary kick and I thought I’d share my findings, including some INCREDIBLE books (and links, author blogs, literary websites and magazines/journals).

For starters, I want these books (many of which were found at Ampersand Books and Brain Pickings):

Letters of Note –Shaun Usher (and his awesome Letters of Note blog)

A Writer’s Diary–Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As Consciousness is Harnassed to Flesh: journals and notebooks (Susan Sontag)

MeaningofHumanExistenceMech.inddThe Meaning of Human Existence (BOUGHT IT!) by Edward O. Wilson

–and here’s a review by the Washington Post

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace (Anne Lamott) —BOUGHT IT!

Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery by Jeanette Winterson

Dataclysm: Who We Are (when we think no one is looking) by Christian Rudder —BOUGHT IT!

The Life of the Mind by Hannah Arendt

Changing My Mind: Occassional essays by Zadie Smith

(poetry) Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Gluck —OWN IT9780374152017_custom-c010e93aece861fd1783b68ce6c0eabdc7044d67-s99-c85

****The Muse of Abandonment: Origin, Identity, Mastery in Five American Poets by Lee Upton (…bought it)

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit —BOUGHT IT!

Henry Miller on Writing

Sex, or the Unbearable by Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman

978-0-8223-5594-6_pr

and oooooh

22022747I want this one: Blacken Me Blacken Me, Growled   by Cassandra Troyan  (which I saw over at PANK)

(poetry/Ampersand): For the Woman Alone (at Ampersand Books) by Ashley Inguanta  71h2yIQfwdL

(fiction/Ampersand) We Take Me Apart –Molly Gaudry (and I believe there is a sequel coming out)

Now, other cool literary/poetic places I like–and most of them have podcasts, links, reviews, music, and more:

How a Poem Happens (one of my favorite places)

Identity Theory–has everything

Jacket2

MadHat Lit

Tin House Workshop Podcasts (with a special podcast there by Ann Hood on 10 steps to an essay)

Bookslut –books, interviews, posts, good stuff

dumbfoundry

Largehearted Boy–music, books, lots of great shit (and downloads)

Luna Park

Laila Lalami Read More

Writing Prompt from a Quote

Bukowski
Bukowski

So I came across a post at a blog I follow by Ryan Lanz called The Writer’s Path (excellent posts and advice, let me tell you–I don’t think he knows how many times I re-read his stuff).  He does “Ten Quote Tuesdays” and I of course am late for it but I’m also going to take a different spin on it.  There are inspirational quotes in the post on writing and then there are prompts; I have chosen to use one of the quotes as a prompt for a post.

I couldn’t decide between Viktor Frankl’s (amazing survivor and writer) “What is it to give life must endure burning.”  Or Natalie Goldberg’s “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist.  Don’t make it harder on yourself.”

So here goes my simple blog post, Ryan, on “Kill the idea of the lone, suffering artist.  Don’t make it harder on yourself.”

 

My cousin Mike is on the phone, my lifelong best friend.  He’s sculpting on the other end and I’m sitting here, smoking in front of a blank screen.

“Hey, Amos, just pull a Hemingway,” he sounds distracted but concerned–he can always do a lot at once.

“Meh, I don’t got enough meds left and there’s no 7up for the gin.”

“Well shit man, I started on my Shandy’s since noon, got this sculpture just about licked.  Just get a couple drinks in ya, sit down, and just write.  Just let it come to you.”

111hemingwaydrunk

So I get off the phone, bust out the wine, feeling like less of an artist because I don’t have bourbon.  I don’t even know what bourbon is.  I set up my laptop on the living room coffee table, turn on my Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder album, and wait.  And drink.  And wait.  Surely my demons will arise if I’m intoxicated, they’re here every other day of the week.

Before I know it my face is on fire and I’m quoting the lyrics from “Wild Horses” in an essay attempt to my sister,

...childhood living is easy to do…

of whom I’ve been having an on-going argument with.  I write as if she’s going to die, and tears are streaming down my face.  I can’t get past the lyrics so I sit.  And stop and think.  And drink.

Fuck this.  Fuckn’ A, Hemingway, you either started all your writing drunk and bloomed from there, or you didn’t really drink when you wrote.  I should know this…but he was brilliant!

I play sadder music.  A more complicated tune like Radiohead’s “National Anthem” to get me thinking and not focusing on words but guts.  I tried doing something high once–in my apartment in Eau Claire where I lived with three other girls.  I secretly and for the first time got stoned by myself, and I was going to write something Alice-ish.  All I did was draw though–and even the stoned-drawing felt presumptuous.  Rehearsed.  I have learned I cannot or maybe I just refuse to really allow myself to tap into what I have to say if I’m in any way intoxicated.  Man I wish I could.  I always imagine the freedom that must come with just saying “fuck it” and writing a master piece.  Clearly, this is not realistic thinking.  But it’s the romantic idea of an artist’s life.

Let’s face it, we suffer enough.  Even when I was really down and out and the “lone sufferer” I couldn’t write then, because I was too close to it.  It takes time, I hate to say, but the scary thing is how much time? Because before you know it the book never gets written, and you have a couple dozen poems and essays published that really, well, mean nothing but personal approval that “hey, I can write–they say so.”  This post depresses me.  TIme to really clear my head and go write!

Amy Jo

 

 

Time for a Change

My writing is too cathartic.  It’s not real to me anymore.  Maybe because I’m coming out of that journaling and into actual writing.  Where is the humanity in my writing? I spent too much time on myself.  Self-absorbed.  Thinking I’m the only one with problems.  I’ll work on it guys.

Amy

Alan Watts on Writing

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country il_570xN.646681969_qxniand there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
Alan Wilson Watts