‘What process do you follow?’ I was recently asked by tyroper. I took this to mean, specifically, ‘how are you writing currently?’ (Processes of projects shift, I find, with each of these). So, I replied:
Write (and be aware that some pieces won’t make a final cut); look for themes and threads through the whole; tweak these pieces out; look for a running order; edit all the while; fill in the gaps, as necessary; offer out to peer review as I go; some fine tuning (like bonsai!); craft into the object of beauty; think on other writing all the while; produce and promote; write all the while . . .
This is, of course, a project process about a collection. Last night I finished the first draft of the final piece for this collection (the first of which was written in 2009). That, in itself, may say something about this process. It is love. However, my reason for writing here is because that prompter question has given me cause to think on writing processes, personal and persistent.
Some days on from the original question, I now interpret it this way: ‘In which ways do you write?’
I write with time. Years ago, somewhere, maybe from a tutor at University, I was offered the suggestion that we can place a ‘problem’ into cold store, let it be; the ineffable matter of our subconscious pliability would work it all through. It would deliver when it was ready to deliver. These are not the exact words given to me. This is the sentiment given to me. It’s the same now with writing. One day, when the idea is placed, the day continues; some day, when the idea becomes, it is delivered.
I write as I walk. I don’t use ink but air. I don’t use air but space. I don’t always think it all through. I let the walking take the words along. I don’t write the words in exact orders as I do this. I don’t really think about the words at all: it’s just a process of letting things seep. Or perhaps it’s a steeping, a brewing.
I write, physically, in notebooks, when words insist themselves — no matter how inconveniently — and when the writing time is now. This isn’t a way of suggesting there’s a time to sit down and write and a time to go wash up the dishes: this is a way of saying that when words insist, the ‘writing time’ is all that the present is.
I write, slightly removed, by keyboard, but I pause first. I wait. Sometimes this might take half an hour. I sit, lean back, think, but I try not to push that thinking. Words don’t come when pushed. If I’m at my keyboard it’s because writing time is possible.
I write slowly because each word might have weight. If I’ve written only two hundred words, one hour, then I have written two hundred words and that’s fine. The process of every one of those two hundred words is the same: the feel of it, the placement, the texture, the rhythm, the poetry (though this is not poetry I’m writing about here), the flow, the possibility. Some writers advocate the process of ‘write, don’t edit as you go’. I find, if I’m deep enough in, I write, I check, I write, I edit, I think, shift, re-read, all on the go. It doesn’t stop my flow, though it enhances it. I write slowly: perhaps we now know why.
I write immersed. I can’t write skimpily, throw away, without thought or at least without the possibility of layers: I can’t do this because I don’t want to do this. The stories and pieces that take place might be the simplest, slimmest slivers, but they need subtle weights too. I write whilst looking out for these.
I write in acknowledgment that some pieces will be beautiful, possibly, and some will fall short. I write in acceptance that some pieces will not flow the way I thought they might: they will take me elsewhere, darkly, strangely, or with grace I couldn’t hope to muster in my waking conscious thoughts. I write with an open hand, trusting that I’ll be led to a fruitful place.
I write in other ways. These ways here are just the beginnings of seeing. What other ways are there, will there be?