A Musing

Too often, artists paint themselves in a beauteous light, instead of allowing people to see the gritty ugliness, from whence comes the work. It has made us shallow, and thus, damages the end result

I’ve always been the guy who turns left at the “Right Turn Only” sign. I’m not a sociopath; I just don’t recognize the authority of other people’s lessons for my life. If I only walk the path you’ve gone, I can only end up where you’re going.

Sometimes the few people who discuss writing with me in person ask why I write. They never understand my answer, which is writing is irrelevant. It’s more that this is a valve I can open and let all the bad humours out. You artists know what I mean, right? Write, sketch, photograph, paint … whatever. The point is to get the stuff that’s in to look the same when it’s out. I know that I see the world differently than everyone else. I’ve been told that enough. One ex-girlfriend (and still friend) likes to remind me my “brain is in sideways.” I don’t try to be different any more than I try to be male. I just am.

What I mean by all of this is that I’ve always read that a writer’s website should be professional, polished, and show his/her best stuff. Most writers I’ve seen keep to that mantra in some way, whether they are writing about their work, writing reviews, or just instructing scores of other writers how to write. Shit, how the hell do I know how to write? You sit down in front of the computer, find the characters, know where they are, and then try like hell to get out of the way. If at some point you find your self interested and wondering what the heck they’re going to do next, you’ve done your job. If you find yourself leading the action, you’re probably stomping all over your story’s furniture.

So what I do here is really different. Most of the stuff I post, I edit after I post it. Some of the work – the excerpts, some poems, have been finished and polished. The stuff people respond to, however, isn’t. I just — and you can quote me here on the process — make shit up. That’s it. When I’m in photography mode, I aim my camera at stuff and push the button. People ask me what I shoot. My answer, “Whatever’s there.” It works that way with writing and poetry too. I encounter things every day that put ideas in my head. Sometimes they are videos (which have led to books), sometimes photos (which have become stories). Other times they are bits of conversation or just wild ideas. They go in, and when you start to write, this grand milieu begins to take shape. Like photography, the real magic begins after you’ve gotten it down, during editing. That’s when you keep tweaking it until it looks on the computer like it did in your subconscious.

Writing’s like a shaded window; the easiest way to let in the light is to open up and let out the darkness.

Don’t worry that you don’t know how it looked in your head. You aren’t supposed to. But trust that you’ll know it when you see it. Then be prepared to be surprised when people like the things you hated and ignore the stuff you thought was genius. That’s the fun part; it’s how you learn what you’re good at. Rarely, if you’re lucky, you begin to be good at what you hoped. I think this is how it works anyway.

I am just reaching that stage, after writing over half a million words of fiction over the last 3 1/2 years. People are coming to me asking about my characters. That is all I wanted to get out of writing – to create characters people care about. (That and maybe to see myself quoted one day before I die, so I can see what I said that made a difference.)

So, with that in mind, I will continue to throw unfinished and unpolished work here, in the hopes that some people are encouraged to see it’s a journey. Genius is a fiction written by those who didn’t want to do the work. The real mastery is in repetition of a single task – getting out of yourself what needs to be out, and keeping inside what doesn’t belong in the work.

See? This post was supposed to be a poem. Maybe I’ll post that tomorrow, if I don’t delete it tonight.

At the end, through the art, we become a fiction, creating a world that only we know. When others ask to join our world, then we have done our jobs.

15 Comments

  1. Hanno Phenn says:

    I’ll be right with you there .I now jack about writing I admit but I know how to paint and draw feelings and thoughts that are value or important to me.I always like to discuss my work and I hate it if you just get this like it and that’s it .I know I do it myself but sometimes there is nothing to say about it.What can you say about a bunch of photos that show this and that sometimes not much more than I like it. On the other hand there is Writing Poetry and Art were you have a feeling or not may just a what the Fxxx is that all about. Than this is the point when I appreciate a comment.

    1. I agree. I try to comment when I have something to say; but I don’t just throw out words that don’t mean anything. I know a lot of times people have nothing to say about what I do. Sometimes, their like just means, “Hey, I stopped by.” That’s certainly better than nothing.

  2. godtisx says:

    “Genius is a fiction written by those who didn’t want to do the work.” Agreed! The magic absolutely happens in the rewrite.

    This whole post is Boss. I agree with all of it. I want to create characters people care about as well, but also stories that disturb the cells if I can. They shouldn’t be the same when I leave. Big dream. I know…

    Anyway, nice to meet you. Loved this post.

    1. Thanks for your comment, and for stopping by. The thing about big dreams is that they are the only ones that matter enough for us to do the work. Writing is a crazy thing to do, but if you have that insanity, don’t doubt yourself for a second. (That’s what critics are for.) 🙂

      1. godtisx says:

        You got it. It was completely my pleasure. 🙂 And you’re right…that is what critics are for…thanks for the reminder. 🙂 🙂

  3. EagleAye says:

    Great post. You really nailed down the workings of the creative mind. I especially like this part, “likes to remind me my “brain is in sideways.” I don’t try to be different any more than I try to be male. I just am.” I’ve had people asking questions like “how did you think of that” and I honestly don’t know how to answer. It’s like asking a duck how it just laid that egg. How is a duck supposed to respond to that?

    1. I think all you can say is, “My mind works the way it’s intended to.” I typically ask her how she knows it’s not everyone else who’s odd. She’ll laugh.

  4. cchrissy55 says:

    Great post Bill, I keep saving your posts to read later but never have time!
    I particularly liked this bit
    ” Then be prepared to be surprised when people like the things you hated and ignore the stuff you thought was genius. That’s the fun part;
    Brilliant, and so true of my work. People ALWAYS like stuff I hate haha..

    1. Chrissy, I think it always works that way. On my photography blog, I show the 10 photos they like the most. Number two is one I hate.

  5. Jones, this is great. Excellent points. And WOW did I so resonate with the first few paragraphs….literally visceral reaction. The whole piece was a pleasure to read, and always a comfort to find a like mind.

    I like that….brain in sideways…

      1. you’re gonna mix languages like that?

        yeah, because you don’t want to turn where the traffic demands 😉 (i do it too!!)

        and your brain is in sideways.

        saol est partie

        1. Okay, I officially like you now.

          On 4/24/13 11:00 PM, “This Blog Intentionally Blank”

          1. thank you. I’ll keep that in mind. somedays I feel likeable, and I like myself….some days, we’ll call it “not so much” . and I wonder how my fiance can stand to be around me at all

            thank you. its mutual of course. i’m sure that’s clear.

  6. Mona says:

    I like your voice and want to read more. Another day. Another time. When more time is available. I will explore your world and your words.

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