Everyone’s Writing Process Is Different

There is this line in the movie Pollock, when Jackson begins doing the drip painting or action painting, as some artists and critics call it, when Lee Krasner walks in and says, “You did it Jackson, you cracked it wide open.” I had a tiny bit of artistic revelation like that tonight. Let me go back a sec…

I have never had a problem with ideas. I have so many ideas they drip from me like sweat on a humid day in the Everglades. I have so many ideas that if I had actually started writing at the age of ten maybe, only maybe, I would be able to get them all out. And I am not limited to fiction, my ideas skip across genres; poems, screenplays, songs, sudden fiction, biographies, performance. Every idea has a medium or place or could easily slip between mediums. I brim with ideas. My problem is never the idea; it’s the action. Two huge obstacles both with my name emblazoned across them, (A) I tend to think I’m not any good at writing so I don’t bother to start. (B) sometimes it happens, the words flow like a busted faucet and spill all over the page staining every inch in black or blue ink but then I look at it and I think, what now? It’s like panning for gold. I know I’m in a good stream and my pan is full. I know there’s gold in it, call it faith, call it foolish, but there is gold. Yet, I have no idea how to pan. What do I do, shake it? Pour water over it? Do I even have the right sifting pan? Then once I sift out the mud, soot and sand how do I tell the fools gold from the real gold. This is generally when obstacle (A) comes back into play. Let me go back a little bit more…

I had been having trouble writing. It’s the novel/it’s me. I think I’m crap. There’s just no way around those plan simple four goddamn letters. They’re as nasty as any obscenity. But, even though I think I’m crap, I’m tenacious, and subconsciously driven. I’m at this point in my life where I don’t think I can go on striving for happiness in my life the way I feel “happiness” has been presented to me: through parents, media, mainstream media, whatever, it doesn’t matter where it came from it’s there. The happy homemaker picket fence or successful business career woman it’s not going to happen. Nope, because I want to sink my teeth into the concrete in order to eat the dirt no matter how much it hurts. This means getting over the four letter word or moving it around or whatever but it’s do or die here. Dramatic, I know- but god damnit It needs to be dramatic! Just back a tad bit more…

I wrote in a recent post that I had gone through my old journals. In that post I mentioned the finding of a gem- gold. But it was muddy and I was holding it in a rusty old pan. With the forced enthusiasm of a kid trying out for a sport in a new school half way through the year. I shut my office door and re- wrote the scribbles line by line. It was a poem. I knew it but I suck at poetry (this is A talking) but it was nothing other than a poem. It’s like knowing that you have gold in the pan. I got pissed because now I was at( B)- what the hell was I supposed to do with these words- what now, how do I even begin to sift? I pulled out all my writing books but everything was about how to find the idea-I don’t need an idea, I need the action! But like I said do or die- this is real. This is do or die. Now back to the beginning…

I read a passage that said

look at the words like building blocks everything is equal

this was from Writing down the Bones and it had a little exercise to mix everything up- but because I am a visual person, I drew a box around each word and only then was I able to unlock them from the sentences. I moved a lot around- and then because I am an aural person, I started talking it out loud and things moved more, and some of the mud moved through the holes in the pan. And, because I am a physical person, I started walking around the studio talking it out and then the title came. With the title I really knew what the poem was about and then I sat back down and really started working. I don’t know how to describe this particular moment of anything other than a first dive, where there is no sound except the bubbles of your own tank. That sound is exhilarating because it means you are still breathing and alive. Other than that sound there is nothing else but you and the heaviest moving weight of ocean water which pushes and holds you all at once. There was nothing but language on the paper in front of me, and I quickly scribbled a note to myself, “you have something here you’re really close I can feel it you’re close.” My pan was glistening but there was pyrite. I knew there was because there were things I didn’t want to let go of but I knew the poem didn’t want them. But what? Where were they? Then it happened, the light was just right, things sifted and I plucked out the pieces and it fit and I felt something I never felt before when writing- ever- ever- I said to myself, “You’ve done it, you cracked it wide open.” And I smiled. I came up from the water without the bends, and alive, and exhilarated and I did it- I wrote a poem- a good one, and there are two more that belong to it and then they go out- they’re done. I cracked that shit wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide open. Today I wrote a poem. One poem- and god damn it- I got it, I got it, and I got it good.

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