Write On! The Writing Process
Writing is the worlds oldest profession.
Don’t let any one kid you. Before prostitution, there were cave drawings, petroglyphs and hieroglyphs, well before the dawning of the age of syphilis! Grammar before gonorrhea as I always say! Literature before lesions. It was a simple time of symbols depicting predatory birds and carnivorous animals – and yes, those mysterious depictions of anal probing and fashionable flying saucers and all that other “ancient aliens” bullshit. It was communication for the neanderthal crowd… pre-historical attempts at communication to the masses. The cave was truly the media of the day and a true No Spin Zone with no edicts proclaimed, nor effective editorializing. You could read an entire Cro-magnon version of War and Peace with just a few symbols of man tossing a spear at a mastodon. Sexuality was simply a drawing of a Neanderthal knuckle-dragger, hauling his hysterical historical mate into a cave by the hair with an Alley-Oop look of confusion, and a rather large club in his hand.
Eventually someone figured out that you could string together a composite of cave carvings and it would begin to tell a tale… a story… something with a plot and characters but not too much plot or character development. What do you want or expect from post-Jurassic post-graduate work from someone who can only grunt and kill?
Eventually “writers” emerged from the slimy brine and walked the earth. They began handwriting great philosophical tomes in Greek and ancient Phoenician about goddesses, gods, Thebes and Rhodes! Later, with the advent of the printing press and the typewriter, mass-communication in the form of the written word took off faster than an adverb in heat being chased by a throng of deranged nouns intent on damage! At last, writing was coming of age! Plots were needed, characters had to be developed and correct punctuation had to be used for no other purpose than to allow English Majors to masturbate over well-worded paragraphs as they enjoyed form over substance as most parasites do. The English Major is the anal analogy laden arch-enemy of reading for enjoyment. The English Major is actually a minor player in the scheme of major things, and useless except to perform its destiny as an editor. They will not be a creator of literature, but rather its curator. The writer may be the whore in the whorehouse, but the editor is our Madam. The editor closes the deal, the writer spreads its legs.
The writer wrestles with and fornicates with formatics as though engaged in a Texas Death Match locked in mortal combat with a wily opponent (the written word!) who is out to destroy him/her, or at least delay the person with guerrilla tactics designed to impede her/his progress in the writer’s only purpose… completing the first draft. The empty page sans words is a beach at Normandy and the writer wants to establish a beach-head, but first must fight his/her way in a battle against a seasoned enemy of panzers and Luftwaffe… writers block! The establishing paragraph, the opening salvo as I call it, and the title elude us at first, so we send in recon teams to get the lay of the land and an accurate assessment of enemy troop movements. Watching out for any potential land mines or machine gun nests in the form of formulaic that may hinder our advance, and ultimately our victory, after a long hard struggle with single words to form sentences, sentences that form paragraphs, and paragraphs that form books, articulated articles, and eventually magazines. All this leading to the bombed out city of Berlin, where we can finally type the words… The End!
When we dynamite the dam, the words flow forth as we down a fifth. Drinking goes with writing as much as a fucking Funk and Wagnells, and if you’ve ever thunk to funk a wagnell, then you’re a better man than I. Mr. Webster and I do not get along either, as my editor is apt to point out time after time. Tennessee Williams on writing stated it best:
“A writer without a bottle of whiskey is like a chicken without a goddamned head”
Hemingway wrote: “Write when drunk, edit when sober!”
Words can cascade… they can leave the bosom of the writer’s imagination with all the power of an avalanche in the Rockies, or it may fall from a pinata of ideas and plots when hit with a stick by children. He must then pick up the sweets and put them in order, some semblance of order and some resemblance of literature. Churchill said that the process of writing a book is indeed painful:
“At first the writer is in charge… half way through he becomes the slave and the book the Master… when it is complete he then tosses it to the masses to devour and kill the beast!”
All writers have different ways of wrestling with the process. I use music to fuel inject the re-writes… I work in silence on the first draft… read it aloud for cadence then start from the opening salvo with headphones in place, listening to the Yardbirds or Byrds or Jefferson Airplane or Led Zeppelin and the likes of Ginger Baker performing solo on “Toad.” I let my mind improvise and go with the beat and the cadence of the music. It’s all rock and roll anyway, and soon the piece concludes. It is finished never to perfection, and you are in danger of over-writing and losing what you have that is solid, but despite it all, there is profound relief in two little words that a writer loves to type…