A methodology of writing that is not new

<as I’m going away for a few days I don’t know if there will be many updates so in change for inactivity here’s something to read on our beloved topic that is on writing>

How to write? How to write? How to write? The more you are into writing the more often and more desperately you keep repeating this question. What I mean here is the process of pondering about the method and about the approach to creating. The more elaborate version is: what kind of experience am I supposed to transform into writing and then, the most dangerous is to ask how should I live to get the most sought-after experience?

<read on –>

There are as many answers as there are writers. Still few of them can create a world perfectly detached from their own, private point of view. This of course manifests itself in various ways. Take two very close writing-friends: Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, both of whom based their novels very closely on the lived experience. The results were quite weird, as ‘On the Road’ resembles an accurate diary and is at least possible and realistic, while ‘Naked Lunch’ is chaotic, apocalyptic vision of an imaginary land run by brutal mad men, related more to some nightmarish science-fiction then anything from this world. Both of them lead life in their own way; Kerouac speeding with Neal Cassady from NY to California back and forth throughout the 50ties and Burroughs really seeing his twisted revelations while seduced by heroine mixed with other mind-altering substances. In the end, it’s all on the same, experience-based shelf.

David Foster Wallace was more of a conceptual artist. He imagined ‘The Pale King’ novel it this way that first he will get the necessary experience working as an accountant and after this he will be able to write actual novel on the topic of the overwhelming bureaucracy in today’s world. He, a cunning fellow, neatly planned his experience first then reflected back on it and turned it into a great, surrealistic mosaic.

Not a new concept though. A lot of writers have found a way to prepare for a certain topic, living in an environment or taking up a certain job. It’s an idea barely original for writers. But wasn’t it more research oriented then experience oriented before?  Maybe but to be honest I have no idea if there is any novelty here.

My way is to simply write about a day in a life. James Joyce was the master of this. He showed all facets of Dublin in just one day of time, composing a supreme, mind-bending picture. But he, like Proust with his whole life, was working on the past. And those who chose an occupation for a future novel did it to create an accurate portrait of the environment. I’d like to do it more in a way of Wallace. First prepare for a day of ‘experience’ in any possible ways, that could include topics for dialogues, a plan of activities, organizing meetings, acquiring some useful objects. The second step would be to write the story of predictions, to see what can be anticipated from before and what is the best outcome I can imagine. What do I expect from the world, what are the hopes or even the wild fantasies? Third step is to run through a given day with a pen and a pencil for notes and an open-mind, try to cause things to happen. Fourth is to write it down, well-thought sentences and all, but with the possibility of even as extreme approach as Hunter Thompson’s (by that I mean really loose basing on facts, really, really loose).

And that’s it, although there are still some details to dwell upon. How the contrast between imagined and actual will come off? It’s sort of a way to analyze one’s self, in a sense of what I want, and what I can do and to possible ‘measure’ the gap between them.

But more importantly it’s a work done more for pleasure and for myself then for the art of writing. It’s a way to tempt oneself into experience, into trying to get the most of a day. To walk around, find new locations, to look closer at everyday places, having to describe them verbally, finally to rethink everything and to mobilize oneself for encountering the unpredicted. It’s no more a novel as the mirror of the real world seen by an individual. Or it’s more like transferring the real life into a novel, making believe you’re a character, maybe, the narrator of a given tale. Isn’t it more scary and dangerous than promising? I know. And maybe it’s just the revolution of conceptual art finally realized. Art is in our heads and so is literature, while the world is only looked at in passing.

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One comment on “A methodology of writing that is not new

  1. eTilde says:

    “But more importantly it’s a work done more for pleasure and for myself then for the art of writing. It’s a way to tempt oneself into experience, into trying to get the most of a day. To walk around, find new locations, to look closer at everyday places, having to describe them verbally, finally to rethink everything and to mobilize oneself for encountering the unpredicted.”

    I agree and especially write for pleasure and myself, to rethink everything and to encounter the unpredicted. May new lived experiences lead to delightful and unexpected encounters in your writing! Enjoy your adventure : )

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