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This is one of those mornings...well, afternoon, now...when I wake up and everything below my fibulae and tibiae seems to be made of shattered glass. It'll be better in a couple of hours. And I do not need my feet to write.

It has been my experience that many people actually believe that writers live in a state of perpetual inspiration. Maybe this is the source of that annoying "Where do you get your ideas from?" question. Maybe the people who believe writers live in a state of perpetual inspiration are the same people who ask that question, thinking — wrongly — that there's a trick of some sort involved. And if a writer would but tell them the trick, then they too would have access to the bottomless well of ideas and live in a state of perpetual inspiration. In my case, at least, there is no bottomless fucking well of ideas, and if I only wrote when I truly felt inspired, I'd starve and live in a cardboard box at the corner of Crack and Whore (which is to say, the corner of Ponce and Piedmont). But, that said, there does have to be a spark. What people ought to be asking me is "Where do you get those tiny, little infinitesimally faint sparks that you then somehow manage to blow up into ideas?"

Of course, my answer would be, "I have no inkling whatsoever."

Yesterday was all sparks. I sat here at this keyboard, and stared and stared and stared. I stared for hours. I threw sparks like a goddamn steel mill. I began one piece that turned out to be a dead end. I did the same with a second piece. And finally, I accepted that it wasn't happening. I cannot force it. I have never been able to force it. Like I've said before, writing is a wild magic (at least it is for me). It comes when it's ready, and then, if I'm lucky, I have some small say in where it goes and what it does. This is one reason I can't comprehend why some writers talk so much about "craft." Crafts are something you learn how to do. I never learned to write. I write better now than I did ten years ago, and far better than I did twenty years ago, but I'm not exactly sure why. To me, it is an almost ineffable thing. I try to explain what it is I do, and how it is I do it...on those extremely rare occasions when I try to explain...and, for me, it's like grasping at air. I have no craft talk, no theory, no dos and don'ts, no discernible process. I sit here in my chair at my desk in front of the iMac, and when I'm lucky, it happens. It's not so much that I think the "writing as craft" people are wrong. They can't be wrong, not if they are crafting stories and know they are crafting stories. But I don't craft stories. So, for me, we have here these two different paradigms. I spark. They craft. Two incommensurable world views. I cannot explain to them what it is that I do. I cannot even explain it to myself. And I cannot comprehend what they do.

I tried very, very hard to write yesterday, to begin a piece for Sirenia Digest #21. But all I got were sparks.

Here we go again...


( 2 comments — Have your say! )
Aug. 5th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
I spark. They craft.

When I saw J. Michael Straczynski at the Comic-Con, someone asked him about his writing process, and among a lot of other things, he talked about how he finds it's important to allow a story to disrupt your plans. He said every time he's tried to force a story to go one way when "it wanted" to go another, it always ended in disaster. Maybe some people spark and craft. I personally tend to come up with outlines before I write something and I almost invariably discard those outlines. I'm not sure what the point is, but I always feel a need to make those outlines . . .
Aug. 6th, 2007 04:58 am (UTC)
May I ask, then, how you force yourself to work, when those sparks aren't working? Hopefully without getting swatted?

I try with art, and with writing, when that inspiration isn't there but I want to make myself have some kind of more professional process, and every fibre of me just kind of does that thing a little kid does when it doesn't want to go somewhere, and stiffens and becomes dead weight. That you manage what you do amazes me.

Also, given your love of Belly, there's something I've been listening to that you may like, a band called Halou. It's kind of like someone stuck Belly, and Portishead and My Bloody Valentine into a blender made by Projekt Records.
( 2 comments — Have your say! )


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