Writing Where Does it Happen?
There’s nothing mystical about writing it’s the most prosaic activity at its heart. You put one word after another, and you hope to God that you get the punctuation right. You put another word after that, and so on, until you have a story or a fragment. It’s just using words. But it’s also the most mystical of processes.
Those words come out of the soup that is the mind. And if your mind is like mine, it’s a very messy place. Often I just chase the words and rely on my innate sense of structure to guide me. There is intent, but even when I try to drive that to the surface it will often dive straight back down again. My writing is driven by the deeper currents of my brain. That generative soup of stories read, experienced, dreamed.
I look at my notes and my ideas and my sketches, the kind of things that act as a rudder or are meant to act as a rudder, and they are rarely actually used except as diving off points. Which makes sense because the sea we’re crossing is changeable and the shore we’re heading for is vague and probably isn’t even the one we thought we were. Maps are but part-way useful.
Which, to me, really drives home the importance of reading, and reading, and reading. You learn the shape of stories by experiencing stories. You bury that in your skull and, over time as more stories are laid down, the seeds of new stories are planted,
The writing process when you break it down to the particulate matter is just like consciousness, or matter itself, go deep enough and there’s kind of nothing there. Write a scene one day and it will be different to how you might have written it another, because the eddies of thought that bring our words to us change endlessly.
Editing of course brings things together, draws in those notes where stories begin but don’t, but even then, it’s a fraught process, tidal, uncertain. What seems a great sentence on one editorial pass can seem utterly rubbish the next.
It’s just putting words one after another, but what it makes through that odd, mechanical process can thrill, delight and confound. Art is magic. Process is just the scaffolding built after the edifice, the story that we tell ourselves and others, so that we have more to say then well, I just sat down and wrote it.
Currently in my happy place knitting my edits together for what I’m hoping will be my next novel, and drafting what should be book two in the series that I am working on with Brent Wilson. I’ve seen some of the art that Brent is producing for the book and it’s absolutely outstanding. Brent is at the beginning of a new stage in his career and getting a glimpse of what he is doing is an absolute honour.
Words and art, you can’t get better than that.