Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Radical Writing Advice: Not So

Today's topic is not so radical. Hence the title. Brilliant, right?

Okay. So I'm not feeling too brilliant and certainly not radical at this moment in time.

Recently there has been a discussion in a an online writing group about feeling like the writing is without meaning and how to get through or past that. Feeling stuck. I'm not sure if this has been mentioned, since I got behind in reading the responses, but I don't think the originator meant "writer's block." That's not what it's sounding like and that's not the place I'm in now.

Again. I wouldn't say that I feel my writing has no meaning, but I am in a place of wondering where I'm going. Where I want to to go, my path, the composition of the pathway. I don't necessarily need to know exactly what's at the other end - but I would like a bit of direction.

And then I started reading two of Steven Pressfield's books: "The War of Art" and, just recently started, "Turning Pro." I'm enjoying reading them. And right here and now I will admit that "Turning Pro" felt challenging just reading the back cover. So I started thinking, in addition to "where's the road?," about what I would be willing to lose to "be a writer."

I really like Pressfield's quote about needing to be willing to lose your friends and family and relationships and house (or whatever his exact words were) in order to achieve your dream. I like what he says and the concepts behind it. And I'm not willing, three years from having it paid off, to lose my house. I'm not willing, on the cusp of my 30-year relationship, to lose my relationship. So the next thoughts were: Am I really a writer, then, if I'm not willing to lose everything to achieve that dream?

Wait! I am a writer. I may not be making my living solely from my writing, but I am a writer.

Maybe the question is more of a "what will it look like when I arrive at my creative dream?" because it still probably won't be just writing. I do more than write.

But they're good questions Pressfield's writing is bring up, even if I can't go "exit, stage left," in the words of Snagglepuss, into the woods for a few months to just write. That doesn't mean I can't have a dream and work towards it.

And how did I wander down this path? Oh, right. I was talking about not feeling brilliant and not feeling radical. Althought maybe a little rebellious in response to Pressfield's requirements for success as a creative. I have a feeling I will be revisiting this issue in a future post.

So. I was thinking about not feeling brilliant or important or radical. And that we still have to keep writing. When we think we suck. When the muse isn't around, if we even have one. When we're tired or feeling out of sorts. Or when we just discovered that we can't drink caffeinated coffee any more and decaf just doesn't taste the same and green tea ... oh, that's me. Never mind, I'm not going wandering down another path.

But what I've been thinking about is this Nike-esque "Just Do It" mentality. And it's true. There is also the 12 Step or therapist saying, "Fake It Until You Make It" which goes along with the theories about how many days it days to instill a new habit. Like doing something for 21 days will etch it into your neural pathways so you'll keep doing it; some studies say 30 days.

I know, you've heard all this before. If you're a writer and you ever struggle with writer's block or the creativity wall (or well of darkness), you've heard all kinds of things about hanging in there, getting through, push through it, wait it out, and so on. But I think the simplest thing is, tada, write. Write the crap. Write about your dream or that you didn't dream or that you were hot and couldn't sleep or about the yummy lemon ginger tea you smelled on the bus the other day or whatever. Keep the words coming out, whether that's a pen/pencil moving across paper or fingers on a keyboard or the vocal cords for a speech-to-text software. Keep the words going.

Simple. Right? I know.

It's true. And I do know it's not simple sometimes. But just write. Okay? Don't fuss and fume about it being crap or worthless.

As an example, I'll toss out Richard Foreman. I know some of you have never heard of him. I admire and respect his work. And he just writes. Every day (or most days). And those daily generated writings are available online. He shares them with others to use as they will; giving credit where credit is due, of course. Locally there has been a Richard Foreman mini-festival, which I hope continues; I'll save details on that for a later post - it deserves its own space.

One thing I love about Richard Foreman's writing is that it is just words put together into thoughts sometimes; sometimes it is fairly coherent dialogue, at least for a while. Connections aren't always there - just the words, sentences, some paragraphs, dialogue. He writes. And from that spring plays and a theater, and other people take pieces and create other theatrical works. I'm curious in all the ways his work has been used; I'm guessing it's not all theatrical or performance, but I have no proof.

So. To get through. Just write.

And as an example, here is a tiny snippet from one of Richard Foreman's "Notebooks." I'm going to click on one at random and copy a few pieces from it. This came out of the "Deep Stories" notebook :

This is the story of a man
who said meaningful things--
in the presence of other people who claimed the things he said were not
in fact

Were these things said in friendship?

Right. Youíre right to be frightened

I didnít say I was frightened

But you are, I can sense it

Do I look frightened?

Now that the subjcts been raised, itís hard not to be aware of a certain, veneer of fear, underlying the most ordinary things

Perhaps this is one of my stories

I would say itís not a story, itís a simple hypothosis.

I would say thatís a story.. A very meaningful story. The story of your elusive fear, which may well be justified. The story of the meaningfulness of everything I present for your consideration..

Wouldnít you agree that itís meanimgful for me to say that-- if I am not in fact your friend-- this fact, could in fact, be for you a source of energy.
Yes, if thereís hostility betwene people, people are energized as a result.

There have to be better ways.

Ah, thinking about better ways-- thatís potentially meaningful. But it is also potentially meaningful to reralize that all energy is perhaps the result of hostility on some level, between people, and that energy is not necessarily desirable because it only seems desirable in the context of a world in which every possible relationship is colored by a certain degree of hostility.

I choose not to entertain that vision of the world.

You entertain a vision of the world?


Describe it.

I donít have words to describe it. Sorry if that makes it less meaningful

Oh no. That makles it more meaningful-- donít operate under the delusion that decription equals meaningfulness. No-- description is as best the corelation of a fact and a particulAr sub-system, and sub-systems are mere conveniences, buffers against the truth.

Which is?