The process of writing

May 30, 2008

There are many approaches to writing. Virginia Woolf took long walks and composed passages of text in her head. She must have had a fantastic memory, though she depended on quiet to get things done. Zelda Fitzgerld wrote her only novel in a sanatorium while recovering from a breakdown. Although the quiet and free time undoubtedly helped, writing about the disintegration of her marriage must have been cathartic and helped her recovery. I saw Phillip Pullman interviewed once and he aims to write 3 pages every day which I guess gives you a draft in about 3 months. The NaNoWriMo crowd work to a strict 50,000 words in 30 day deadline:

http://www.nanowrimo.org/

When I started this I thought all the styles were different but I am seeing a theme – whether busy or isolated or competitive all the writers are writing consistently with no gaps. There is no time off from writing. It could be an accident of the examples I have chosen but all of them write continuously. Perhaps this is what I need to do if I ever hope to carry an idea through to conclusion. If only I had discipline…

To be frank I am impressed I have lasted this long blogging. It’s a lot easier as I really just sit here talking to myself, but equally as no one reads it there is no obligation for me to keep writing. If I didn’t have the kind of job that gives me a certain amount of freedom I probably wouldn’t do it. I never blog from home but that’s because I don’t have my own computer and I don’t want to be discovered. If someone I know should find this by their own searching and figure out it’s me then good for them, they win a cookie, but I will not lead anyone here on purpose.

So why am I a fail writer? What happened to my capacity for discipline? Even when I have to write things for work I trick myself into doing it by flicking between the text and various websites, I can’t bring myself to read through the piece as a whole – not through any sense of angst, I just can’t get my eyes to focus on it. I think that multiplied by 100 that would be what ADD feels like. So why am I not interested in things I am writing for myself? I get excited about them when I first think of them but then I abandom them utterly like babies in skips.

If I did find the cause of my failings, the root flaw in my psyche (retch, emo-much) would knowing it mean I had control over it? Really shoddy comparison but: I know that if my partner flirts with someone it is meaningless, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to put lit matches into the other person’s clothes until they go away. Not doing that is a pretense of control: changing the action does not change the emotion. This is probably why I am so often surprised by my emotional responses to things; I am so busy not being silly that I don’t recognise an emotional response as justified.

Saying all this gumph about emotions though: I find it easiest to write/art (art is a verb) when in a low mood. It’s like the negativity can channel creativity. Which sucks because I enjoy being a good mood.

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When am I?

April 29, 2008

Due to some kind of crazy internet timing system that somehow escapes my understanding my previous entry, made yesterday afternoon, has been marked with today’s date. I’m not going to stress over it as it’s close enough, and as long as the posts stay chronological it’s really no big deal.

To open up the question in a more philosophical vein: what does now really mean in context? I’m currently reading a collection of women’s letters that spans the last 800 years and it mentioned the tradition of women writing about women’s novels from previous eras. It occured to me that I have never really considered that although I have full access to all that has gone before I assume that history happened in isolated nuggets. Which is wrong. Ok I’m not a total dumbass: it actually occured to me just before christmas when I was wikipeding some of my favourite authors and influencers, only to discover that they in turn had been influenced by what had come before them. I started to wonder how far you would have to trace this back to discover the origins of certain ideas.

Letters, that strange and seemingly obsolete communication medium, have been making a prominent appearance in my mind of late. Before the above mentioned collection I was reading a book called Virginia Woolf’s Women which featured a large number of extracts from letters both to, from and about dear Ginia. Letters used to be much admired (probably before VW’s time) and passed around to show the skill of the writer. This has been lost now but our culture still has a keen thirst for gossip and voyeurism as quenched by our disturbing media who frequently seem to miss the point. I was even more upset than usual by the Daily Mail website today when they ‘paid tribute’ to actor Kris Marshall after he was injured in a car accident by publishing a picture of him being scraped off the road by paramedics. Sad and grim. I guess this type of thing has taken the place of the public execution.

But anyway, back to things about me. As I have no assignment at work this week (going to work for no reason being the bane of my existence) I have been trawling teh interwebs and my find of the week is etsy.com the craft shop website. My new hobby of cross stitch (don’t laugh) that I started about a month ago is working out rather well, but as I am almost finished with my first project it struck me that after a while I’m going to have a massive pile of things I’ve made and only so much space left on the ceiling. So perhaps I might sell things. I’d have to make a good few more before I could make a shop, and I’m sure BFF will stiff me for one before I’m allowed any kind of profit. But yes, although profit may seem to be the enemy of creativity it does give me something to work towards and perhaps even a few pennies to go in the ‘one day I will own property’ fund.

The point at which my random ramblings intersects is this: what if I wrote a short story in the form of some letters and sold it as a work of art on etsy? I have always had a strong feeling that words and art were intertwined, hence my passion for William Blake and cross stitching phrases, and decorating words and writing on pictures seems to be the only way in my mind to show all the things I want to show. Seeing some of the things on etsy, particularly illustrated poems made up as booklets, and seeing that they sell well gives me a little hope that I could do something like that too. I probably wouldn’t be as successful as I am out of practice and outside the USA so my shipping costs would be higher but there is hope nontheless.