Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If I don't write for two days in a row I start snarling

& respond to the world like a wild dog.
I used to be depressed a lot when I was drinking,
& that is no more for now, & I have
my share of happiness almost every day, &
there is always a sadness at the side of my happiness.
I suppose they could grow fonder of one another.
I lean toward sadness more these days than the rage
just because I couldn't stand myself that way any more
& nobody else could either.
The world is not to me a happy place with sadness in it.
It is a sad place with happiness in it.
One of the top happinesses is writing,
which is for me the exploration of my & others'
search for happiness, which sometimes is tragic
& once in a while terribly funny.

I discover everything about the story
in the writing itself. Intuition is king,
like a child in the woods. Rarely for a metaphor
or simile I'll linger almost mathematically.
Mostly figuring out solutions to gaps & problems
& puzzles it's like feeling around in a dark room,
knowing what I'm looking for is there but I'm not sure
where till I find it. There's a play called Black Comedy
where the characters are (supposed to be) in a house
with the power and the lights out but the audience sees
what's going on. Of course the actors see too
but they act like they cannot.
Writing is like that for me--reaching around in a lighted room
as if I were in the dark, knowing
there is much there beyond what I can see.

I never think of symbols when I read or write.
I don't need to know the castle is a symbol in Kafka.
I think of the physical world that I inhabit. All it is
is symbols. This room I'm in right now. Calendar with a baby
wolf. Umbrella with a small pool of rain at the tip tilted jauntily
in the corner by the door. Painting of a sideyard which itself is full of symbols--wheelbarrow, clothesline, fence, wall, shadows, sunlight.

"A writer's work is nothing but this slow trek
to rediscover, through the detours of art,
those two or three great and simple images
in whose presence the heart first opened." ~Camus

Oh. Happy New Year!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Unconscious Writer.


"Each writer's unconscious will be found
to have, if I may put it so, a type-story
of its own: because of the individual's
history, he will tend to see certain
dilemmas as dramatic and overlook
others entirely, as he will also have his
own idea of the greatest possible happiness
and personal good. Of course, it follows
that each writer's stories will always bear
a fundamental likeness to each other. This
need not be seen as a threat of monotony,
but the conscious mind must be enough
aware of it to alter, recombine, introduce
elements of surprise and freshness into
each new story project.

"Because of the tendency of the unconscious
to see things in types, it is the unconscious,
in the long run, which dictates the form of the
story.... If this is so a great deal of instruction on
plot making is a waste of time. Certain ingenuities
can be suggested, the popular story of any
given period can be isolated and studied,
and formulas for its writing can be devised; but
unless a given formula is already congenial
to the student, he will get little help by
attempting to model his own work upon it."

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

I write on a rocking chair

Uncle Julian left me. It has an Indian rug
with fringe at the top & bottom thrown over
the cushions because the cats scratched them
to hell and puffin'. The rug is thick, worn,
good texture, too big for the cushions
& faded orange & gold which goes good
with the cherry wood of the chair.
The keyboard's on my lap & my barefeet
are up & crossed to the right of the blonde
wooden box the monitor perches on. I don't
think much else of the real world exists when
I'm writing.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Writing Open & Free

It's a wonder to read a thoughtful writer who is describing a creative state of mind that I have been in myself but haven't named. Here is the masterful American poet William Stafford on the freedom in writing that I experienced in writing Mixed Animal:

"The main feeling I'm having when I'm writing is that I'm seeking the
satisfactions that are in the arrivals at the moment in language for me.
There are little emergent discoveries, opportunities while I write. And
those are so satisfying that that's what I do. The kind of writing I'm
talking about, its direction and effectiveness depend on your total
commitment to letting the experience of now take you to where the makn
tides of your life and the opportunities of language will take you.

There are ways to write in which you may suppress your own feelings.
Suppose you start to write for some cause you believe in and suddenly
you're smitten with the recollection or a realization that there's
something in that cause or some recent thing that's been done by people
in that cause that would spoil your case. So you suppress it. That would
be one way.

The way I want to promote here is to face all the complexities of your
thought as you go along. And there's such exhilaration in letting
yourself become caught up in what you're creating that you are no longer
paying attention to subsidiary things, like the cause.

The kind of writing I'm talking about is like thinking. It's the free
dive into the experience of now. If you let yourself do that, it's not a
self that you're presenting to others. It's not like having prepared a
position that you are now presenting to the world.

Between us there's language. When I write or talk, I just dive into the
language. Even if I start a sentence like this, which I've just started
now, without figuring how in the world I'm going to end it, I know that
I'm going to be able to end it, because I've done many sentences sort of
like this, and no matter how many parentheses I put in, I find my way
out at the end. OK?

Now, you see I didn't have time to think about what is somebody else
thinking about while I'm saying this. If I just dive into the language
it takes care of me. The language takes care of a writer or a talker."

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