It's a strange feeling to write like this. Like I am writing badly on purpose. Because I do not want to write “well.” If I write “well” I will miss something, I will not discover the part of me that I don't know. And so I on purpose ignore, refute the part of my brain that knows how to do it, the part I would use if I were trying to get a writing job or impress someone. I don't want to write with that part of myself. I want to write without protection.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
If you ask me, perfection and art don't go together. Maybe they do for some people, but the quest for perfection – i.e. compulsion – is an art killer. A writing killer.
So many writers I have known (including myself at times) can't sit down to write because of the fear of not doing it well enough. It might disguise itself as “I have no time,” but I think if you look more closely fear of not writing well enough might be the actual reason.
And if they do get as far as chair, paper, pen then whatever words make it through are erased or torn up. It happened just yesterday in the workshop. A young woman, after reading one of the most powerful paragraphs I had ever heard, announced that it was the only part of what she had written that morning that she had allowed to survive. The rest she had erased.
Destroying your writing is a form of suicide. Not writing at all is a sort of pre-emptive suicide. It's not easy to insist on life, on writing.
I resist my own impulse to self-destroy by publishing online as soon as I write. I like this art form of writing and publishing instantly. It came to me of its own accord. I didn't copy it from anyone. It works for me. I write this way. In the beginning I wanted to be Virginia Woolf, at my desk every morning – it has morphed into this: writing mostly in the Authentic Writing workshops, writing in pen because the subsequent typing is a chance to make a few light changes. And then posting it. There's no time to destroy.
I've got a good sharp brain. I could criticize my writing. I'd make a great English professor if I wanted to go in that direction. But I do not.
So I encourage all art-writers – people who write to discover something about themselves, to walk on new turf, people whose life goal is not to just mimic what others have done and been praised for – I encourage you to stop thinking. Thinking and writing do not go together.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I made a friend online about a year ago. I came across her blog, Art on the Run, and we have corresponded ever since. I share today's post, which I found, as a writer, hugely inspiring. Often I find my writing to be a close relation of Heather's art. I like her approach.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I find this perfectly attuned to my experience of writing memoir.
In all the questioning about what makes a writer, and especially perhaps the personal essayist, I have seen little reference to this fact; namely, that the brain has become a kind of unseen artist’s loft. There are pictures that hang askew, pictures with outlines barely chalked in, pictures torn, pictures the artist has striven unsuccessfully to erase, pictures that only emerge and glow in a certain light. They have all been teleported, stolen, as it were, out of time. They represent no longer the sequential flow of ordinary memory. They can be pulled about on easels, examined within the mind itself. The act is not one of total recall like that of the professional mnemonist. Rather it is the use of things extracted from their context in such a way that they have become the unique possession of a single life. The writer sees back to these transports alone, bare, perhaps few in number, but endowed with a symbolic life. He cannot obliterate them. He can only drag them about, magnify or reduce them as his artistic sense dictates, or juxtapose them in order to enhance a pattern. One thing he cannot do. He cannot destroy what will not be destroyed; he cannot determine in advance what will enter his mind.