go ask the moon.


and the rain said
“go ask the Moon”
and the Moon,
well,
the Moon just sighed,
“Lover,
you’ve let me slip away again.”

I hate art. There, I said it. Now I can love it even more.

For me, talking about process is kinda like talking about sex…I, the intellectual me, isn’t really at liberty to speak for the primate in me who wakes during arousal and takes the controls. I can say a few things about him, but my monkey doesn’t talk about sex. His talk is part of the sex act. The difference is profound. The poet/proset in me doesn’t discuss writing, not very well anyway. His discussion is the writing. I can say truthfully that sometimes I have a plan, sometimes not, sometimes just a title with which I’ve fallen in love (“Not the Case of the Rural Hooker” or “the Ghost of Lenny Bruce” or, well, you get the idea) and suddenly, there I am, racing to the climax. But to come off (sorry) like I’m an expert in discussing writing would be wrong. I’m not. I’m not even an expert writer.

What I do know is my own voice. It is one of the few things I have mastered in this life. My voice guides me through the work: it works with breath and line breaks; it sings the prosodical and passes judgement as to whether it is true or no; and my voice has an uncanny sense of what sounds like me and what sounds forced, beyond my reach, beneath my chair, or whathaveyou.

I write for my friends, idealized sometimes, sometimes for one specific person. It works for me. I am fortunate to have a varied peer group. Some are superbrains. Some are hickweeds. Some are musicians. Some are older, successful writers. Some are weird, booknosed relatives. And these aren’t exclusive sets. The point is, when moved to write for the hickweeds (or the hickweed in me), I create work that will move in ways necessary for this audience. Dickens says, in The Old Curiousity Shop, “Necessity may have no law, but she has her lawyers.”

I do work alone. Sometimes I drink vodka for three days before anything comes. And then anything goes. Remember Hemingway? He was saying, at the end, “Nothing comes,” and then the shotgun in the mouth. Sometimes I just go jogging.

I like taking on a hugely ambitious project I’ll never complete and then, in delay/avoid mode, I write little pieces of fabulousness. I dunno. It works for me.

Words are important. Go ask the Tom Tom Club:

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2 responses to “go ask the moon.

  1. I get your analogy about talking about process. It concerns me that the talking about would be didactic and lay a grid over the work itself. I wonder then if the talking about process can be a more creative act, maybe like in 39 Microlectures…it seems like “the author” (my head missing the name) talks about process, but the process becomes the work and then expands. Maybe, only maybe? Is it possible?

  2. I like Salinger’s response to sudden fame (after The Catcher in the Rye) which was to retreat from the public sphere in toto. He didn’t want to talk about the work, the making of the work or etc. Why do I like this? Well, I AM lazy, and don’t want to attempt to give voice to what (after time and effort) becomes instinctive, pre-verbal, decisions made almost in the subconscious. I think if the artist’s intent is to create a work that DOES speak to process it should do so and do so well. But process is simply ONE theme, or ONE subject. Why should it be granted primacy in a methods course?

    Perhaps that’s best left as a rhetorical question. Yet alternative or creative research methods (or any research method) should be conducted in the spirit of inquiry. I think we’re doing that. But I believe the writing process IS one of inquiry regardless of whether it addresses process or Dante or a young man’s disenchantment with his place in the modern world. If we knew–as artists–exactly what we would achieve when we set out upon the creation of a specific work we might not set out at all. Aside from the sheer impossibility of knowing, there’s the thrill of NOT KNOWING that makes (Frost) all the difference–right? A road less traveled, a life less ordinary.

    But I’m still not really answering your question. I suppose there’s my laziness in not wanting to do the work of coming to understand my processes and, too, there’s the fact that it’s been years since my Kootenay School of Arts writing days and I haven’t been forced to examine process since then. What I DO discuss with other writers and audience members is specific pieces. This is a compelling take on processualism (to borrow a term from archaeology). Here we find the inquiry case-specific. What does this say about process? That it differs contingent upon choices of form, style, subject matter, etc? That there might be something suspect in a writer who contends he/she writes everything in the bath, after 9pm on Sundays?

    I understand these are purely physical considerations, but I posit them nonetheless. The ONLY unifying processual activity in which I consistently engage is to get text out of my head onto a universally legible surface. I write hung over, I write in the middle of the night after a dream, I write through a master cleanse, I write when I have THE FEAR, I write after reading something powerful, I write with musicians, I write at my Mother’s, I write on the side of the highway with the four-ways flashing. And I realize, again, these are physical aspects of the act, but I insist the physical is inseparable from the cognitive.

    – love,
    Clay

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