18 March 2014

that bloody quill: writing process blog tour

Process. Pirates. Yarrr.(Image via The Graphics Fairy)
After my long absence from the Jungle (which, I promise, will not last forever ... I just haven't had a moment to fill you all in on the why behind the silence, but I promise it's a moment not a moratorium), I was excited to be approached by fellow writer Joseph Harker of naming constellations to participate in a fascinating blog tour on the writing process. Seeing as I've been in a lull in terms of writing--my last major writing project was my dead-end NaNoWriMo project last November--the prospect of sitting back and examining my process definitely sparked my interest!

The missive of this tour is to share some words on my own process, and continue the conversation with two more writers who will go on to share their own. (Update: the initial poets I approached had to drop out, so I'm still in search of two fabulous writers who would like an opportunity to share their own process introspective!)

1. what am i working on?

Currently I'm working on little more than an idea. The difficulty in spending more time in the corporate world than the "creative" one--while acknowledging the many creative wiggle rooms of corporate work--is that the boundless world of imaginings gets condensed into a desk drawer corner space of practical nonexistence. My big project now is unlocking that drawer and unleashing a new Pandora's Box of creative peculiarities. I want to go world exploring again, so for now I'm dipping my mind toes into the water of dreams to try and find a new shore to swim to. I would like to, by year's end, have a new portfolio of work to begin submitting again and reimagining the goal of publication.

2. how does my work differ from others of its genre?

I suppose the answer "In that I wrote it" is in a sense no answer at all. The truth is I'm well off the idea that I'm original. I may arrange my words in a way that seems new and astonishing to some reader, but somewhere down the line there's always that reader who has seen me before. I suppose my greatest creative leap is serendipity. One of my favorite workshop experiences was having a fellow poet try to unpack a poem of mine and, in his own words, "so utterly failing" that the best he could do was to tell me, "Your work, to me, is just serendipitous." I try to go where the words take me, rather than trying to take the words where I want to go. I'm okay with finishing a poem I think is wonderful and having little to no idea "what it means."

Perhaps what makes my work different is that I don't need it to mean something.

I need it to breathe something.

3. why do i write what i do?

Because ... I ... hm. Maybe because what I write needs to be said by someone. Maybe because I'm too afraid to write anything else. Maybe because there are fish in the sea and birds in the air and birds in the sea and fish falling like rain. Maybe because I am as much in love with the sound of a word like "uvular" as I am in love with trying to find new ways to describe the shade of a harvest moon.

Was this question about poetry? Why do I write poetry? Over, say, prose? I may be overthinking this, or underthinking it, but could it be that I write poetry simply because life is more a lilt than a line? More parts than paragraphs? And so perhaps I embrace all genres because to embrace fully the parts that make my life poetic is to deny the paragraphs that make my life a story. Maybe I've forgotten the question to find the answer.

4. how does my writing process work?

Have you ever seen a mutiny? My writing process is a mutiny of mind. Imagine the brain as a ship, and a single logical thought, a simple plot line, a direct message, is the captain. Upon my ship, the neurons hold the long swords, and they say simplicity must walk the plank. My process is a pirate crew hunting for gold in dark caves and caverns, a mess of wine and rum stained wood and blood stained keys. I don't try to force a single direction. I start with a basic map, and then I let my pirates plunder. I go where I go, and I let what happens ... happen. Eventually I call in the navy to restore a bit of order. If the pen is mightier than the sword then the editor's pen is the gun in a knife fight. There is order in the chaos ... but only just enough to keep the mind ship from going down in the storm.

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If you're used to seeing the structured form of my writing in blog posts, writing tutorials, and guides ... this look at my "process" may be a bit alarming. The above is how half of my research papers look in process. Eventually I can smooth them down to logical reams, but for the most part my might works in reels. So welcome back ... to the Jungle that started it all.

Next Tuesday the journey continues with even more writerly processical musings! Stay tuned for who's up next!



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