Monday, July 4, 2011

the writing process

so when i write, what’s going on?
a while back, dan thought there might be a need for an answer.

i know how i set the process in motion and i know that when i write, it’s a very happy place for me.
i also know that there’s much i don’t write about.
that’s a choice i make for now.

i don't know how to put much into words.
those words will arrive at the right time.

for now, i try and resolve or throw things out into the world to see what i see. to know what i know.
so how do i set the process in motion?
well, i have several pathways into that world of worlds.

1) i free-associate, writing whatever comes into my mind and then organize it later. and again. and again. until it feels as close to “right” as “right” feels at the time i push the publish button. then when the piece is live, i edit it some more because i have a better feeling then for how you might read it, and sometimes even how it might make you feel or think.

2) i hear a phrase in my head. it either pushes me to search out a painting or a photograph that can not only stand on its own, but can dance with the words. i have lots of phrases banked, waiting for the right accompaniment, the right partner. the painting or photograph usually tells a story and it’s part of my work to hear it. i find that part easy, but the retelling is very difficult for me. i miss details, i cut out parts of the story. then the piece needs to be a certain length because i know that longer pieces of writing intrude on the reader’s inclination to stick around.

3) the whole piece appears in my head while i’m walking or biking. the trick is to remember it all. same thing for waking in the middle of the night. i am usually awake enough to hear all the words but not so awake as to get up, turn a light on, and write it all down.

4) i read poetry written by ancient japanese, chinese, persian, and modern scandinavian authors. sometimes a phrase or a thought or even something associated with their words will enter the moment and if i lay it down on one of the pathways i’ve already mentioned, it opens up the vista that was previously undefined and misted over. .

5) for a little while i used a tool called n+7 which helped me reorganize my phrases more-or-less randomly. very occasionally something would come up that came close to what i was looking for. more often i focussed on associating outwards from the random phrases generated.

the writing seems to pass through phases. i’m trying to figure out how things might work. little things and big things. because really, they’re telling stories about each other aren’t they! i also like to write about beauty and love from the skin-deep to those features of the entirety of everything that i can conceive of
and place into words.

i’m so deeply grateful to all the people who come here because they often leave comments that bring me to think about my thinking.

in one model, that moves me along the helix.
in another model, it pushes me deeper into myself and so, further away.
in another it connects us in a special way as we share a moment that arrived from the creative energy that emerges from the love that connects everything.

i value that above all!



Terresa said...

Fascinating to see how the innards of your poetic/writerly mind work, Steven.

Some of your steps mirror mine (the phrase in my head! The free-associating!), others are a revelation to me (n+7 for instance).

Thanks for this post.

Reya Mellicker said...

This is great and will be of great help to so many, Steven!

I have no writing process. I put my hands on the keyboard, or pick up a pen and just start. Sometimes while I'm writing, I'm also reading what I writing. I'll think, "Oh. So that's what's happening!" It's a process of discovery for me.

Love the pictures!! Wow.

steven said...

terresa there's more to it of course but i'm not sure it would really benefit anyone! steven

steven said...

reya - the "process" is really the frameable features of what i do. as i mentioned to terresa (above), there's more but once you start unpacking sensitive proceses, something gets lost. best to leave them be. steven

hope said...

For me, it's that phrase, the one that pops into my head and won't leave which turns out to be the best of what I write. And then it seems to write itself when I sit down at a keyboard. Those moments, it appears, come straight from the heart, with little thought to who may see it. It's just a moment that needs to be shared...or my head my pop. ;)

I'm just glad that when you write, you share. :)

Tess Kincaid said...

Always fascinating to know another writer's process. Whatever you're doing, it's working!

Happy Canada Day to you and yours, my friend. x

rosaria said...

I came from Ruth's blog, curious about your post. The more people share, the more we understand.

Linda Sue said...

Your writing is probably one of the best things about your bike! I am so A.D.D. If I had to follow a "rule" or a sequence I would become catatonic and just twitch a little...Best gift I was ever given in regard to writing was instruction to write a bunch of thoughts on a piece of paper. cut them up and toss them in the air- randomly choose bits to put together- I wrote the best paper I ever wrote that time- it even got published.
Mostly I write mental masterbation shite. It's just for me primarily. I do not make love to existence like you do- You are so much nicer, so generous! Thank you Mr. Steven.

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your writing process and giving us a peek into how you make this magic happen here at the golden fish. You have shared so many moments when something small suddenly swells up, as big as a whole universe, or showing how a passing moment contains eternity. Now, you have me wanting to hear you discuss other aspects of your experience as you did on the post about your kids on Father's Day.

Jinksy said...

You bring many a misted vista into focus, blogpal...