How I Have Written

Many years ago, I was keen to pursue creative writing at the graduate level. I had been out of college for a few years and just completed the first draft of a novel, The Sacred Whore. IMAG2334The genesis of the book had come to me in a flash – a gang of prostitutes kidnap a basketball team so that they can air their views on the declining morality of America – and one of the characters, Chantal, had fought against being removed from the narrative after I had done exactly that. HitchcockI went back and realized the story was all about her; she was an epiphany. Flawed as it was, the book did have moments – to say nothing of Chantal – and I was enthusiastic at the prospect of work-shopping my prose.

And then I met Ben, a friend of a friend, who was registered in such a program. IMAG3730Ben waxed not-so-eloquently about his attempt to re-invent the novel and went on and on about that. I couldn’t get away from him fast and far enough and promised myself I would never be stuck in such conversations again.

And so instead of pursuing my work in school, I planted trees in northern British Columbia, bicycled across France and Spain, edited closed captions for sitcoms and soft-core porn, did the biking again, coached pee-wee hockey, taught high school English, started a film festival and wrote copy about toilets, all of that to buy time to write. 2012-10-13 15.02.29And write I did – in Paris, Dublin, Toronto, Vancouver and New York, in apartments and houses, notes in the post office, on menus and tickets, in transit, in journals, on computer after computer, saving copies, emailing myself additions to text – putting everything together, always in isolation. Newfoundlabrador2010 064I have a clear sense of who I am as I write. It’s just me and the words coming out of my head, a long wavering stream that I sometimes catch and can feel crystalline within, almost exactly like that. My writing grants me understanding, gives moments where life isn’t just chaos and missteps. IMAG1183It allows me to consider and process, search through thoughts and events, my reactions and those of others, their expressions, and find the words that make some sense. The book is my focal point – the concept, the research, the going back and starting again, a character suddenly there, the honing and culling, the letting go and bringing to an end.

2 thoughts on “How I Have Written

  1. no-of-my-business, but, when is ‘writing’ – writing as in: I write for other people to read for enjoyment or education, verses ‘writing’ as writing, as in: I write for my own cathartic voyage,..? As in I make works in clay that are for my own interest and investigation into a material voyage, and I only make works for others when I take on a commission,.. and so if the works that I make for myself find a ‘home’ with someone else then that’s great – but it was not central to my main goal, while the works I make for others – commissioned – must first satisfy the ‘other’ before they satisfy me,.. so while these are ‘my’ works they are really for someone else,.. / – as in once a writer takes on writing a novel for others to buy and read, then are they not making something for some-one else first and then for themselves, verses if they write for their love of writing – or for a personal journal / diary / log etc,.. then they are not under any constraints,.. but they are once they write for others,..?

  2. I think they are the same thing, except that the personal work is almost solely about the process. It isn’t so much writing for others but more making personal work accessible. It’s a hazy thing.

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