Book Release: Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II)

Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II)Announcing the release of my latest fiction offering (following my previous post and waiting for the KDP process to filter its way back to my inbox). Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II) is available for purchase via the bookshop link on the left-hand side bar.

At the start of this particular writing process, I didn’t envisage a year long project in all honesty. The previous instalment of this series took the best part of three years to come to fruition, but Volume II was intended to be a quicker write. What we learn along the way is that words won’t be rushed.

As a taster of the contents of this second volume (and something I haven’t yet done in order to promote the contents of the first volume), there follows at the end of this post a very brief overview of the thirty pieces therein. I call them ‘pieces’ because I always have: they’re not stories in the conventional sense of the definition (by which I mean, the view that such writing has a ‘beginning, middle, end, plot, crucible/conflict’, and so forth); these pieces, in their intentional brevity, sometimes have a storyline to them, are sometimes a moment in the telling, sometimes they’re the middle of things that might expand out in the mind, etc.

How to write a synopsis of such brief affairs (being in the region of 60-1000 words per piece)? The succinct, below, shall describe the brief.

Prices have been reconsidered to reflect the individual work in question, but I’m open to the idea of a free copy coming your way if you drop me a line on my Joel Seath: Writer Facebook page, or send a message on this blog site. This free giveaway is for promotional purposes and therefore with a limited initial period (if it’s successful, I’ll do likewise again sometime). So, contact me by January 17 please.

As the independent writer/publisher’s promotional work is aided by honest reviews, you’ll know then — as a reader — that a review of the book is requested in return for a free copy. There is a reviews page set up on this site for readers’ comments. I thank you kindly in advance of your interest.
 
So, to the writing in Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II):

Soak
being a story of love taken to its inevitable ends

Sugar
in which we cannot escape

I, Revenant
exploring the unreliable

The Glass Girl
being a fractured moment of a fractured man

The Wasps’ Nest
in the midst of a garden tale

A Memory of a Love We Almost Shared
exploring what could have been

When We Never Were
in which we see peripherally

All is Far from Clear in War of Love
continuing battles fought in love

Written on the Streets
a window on the fearful follower

Cardboard Love
a small sliver on dimensions

Red Queen of Stones and Wings
being a fractured obsession

The Fragility of Sense Geographies
exploring an inner urban landscape

Our River’s Bones
in which one inner landscape is condensed and falls

Sprung
exploring a city we don’t control

Composition in Water and Other Elements that Mark
being the self-portrait of a city

City of Trees
in which she murders

The Lure of the Threshold
an urban escape

Future Perfect
a simple tense construction of the world

Whisperings
in which we might see other than we usually see

Incorrigible Mr Yu
being the reflections of the eponymous maybe-misguided

Stained in the Republic of Amnesia
exploring a simple construct of love

Chiaroscuro
following a twisted flame

Absence and Fondness
in consideration of misplaced loves

Orphans of the Wasteland
a small view of loss

Soldiers of the Hidden World
in which empathy and the sensory overcome the emptiness

To the Slippery Wordlessness of Us
in celebration of words and wordlessness

Paper Trees
a brief moment in dejection

She Salutes, and Waves
a true story told

The Thought of Disappearing
in contemplation of time

My Boy the Writer; My Father in Dementia
for my father, who is missed
 
Peace be to my readers (here on the blog and there in my books).
 
 

In Review 2013

Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II)

Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II)

It was always my intention to release my latest fiction offering before the end of 2013, and though the first ambitious self-set dates for this passed by, this aim is now all but achieved. The second in the Savage Short Loves series is currently in production (at what once would have been the printer’s, but what now manifests itself as the inner workings of KDP). Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II) is almost ready, so this post serves to draw attention to this. Details of how to access the book will be made available once (all being well) the digital fruits of my love are blessed at KDP.

The other purpose of this post is to take stock of the writing year. Recent posts have shown the difficulties for my family in the past few weeks, but words are never far away. It was always my intention to dedicate this latest book to my father, ever since we came to realise the scale of the failing of his health. It is apt then that the processes of writing, reviewing, editing, production have come together at this time.

Is there ever a year in which a writer writes all that he or she sets out to? That said, the first two Savage Short Loves books have been released in 2013, and that is reason to be pleased. The final volume in the series should have a more realistic target publication date. To that end, I tell myself: no later than the end of 2014.

When we write, if we write for the possibility of publication, we must also write for ourselves. So I count these private writings as achievements too. Though there have not been as many as of previous years (for a variety of reasons), there have been some to keep me ticking over. Some are scribbled in notebooks, some straight to the screen; some are scraps or lines of poetry; some are the daily notes that grease and crease the creativity. We need our private words as much as we need our public words to be read.

Then there are the ghost formations of works that will be written, but not this year. These are the novellas and novels that sit and wait. Even words that have yet to be written, if formed in abstract shapes, if felt, left to stew, are our writerly achievements; though if they reach this stage and then fail to manifest, we may think in some way otherwise. Included here in possibilities are the various collaborations that have been mooted to me. Of these there are two exciting ideas in the offing: one, the possibility of writing loved/seen arrangements of beauty and subtlety (this is the way I think it at this stage); the other, more of a formation of a journal of depth and delicacy. Maybe neither will happen, but they both exist in the present in the liminal space of ‘maybe’.

In the scholarly field, there have been invites for collaborative writing and working. It is to this aspect of my writing practice that I also intend to focus more attention in 2014. It’s high time that I set about more papers to compliment and advance my thinking and writing (such as the ‘other’ blog) in the field of children’s play. There has already been much written here, and there continues to be plenty of scope for more. I’m fortunate to have contact with a circle of respected writer/peers in this field, and their honest appraisal of this writing will be invaluable.

In the world of fiction in 2013, I’ve also been blessed in having the support of people like Kirsty Fox at her Bees Make Honey Co-operative. Kirsty’s taken on some of my books for sale and, by the looks of things, is making great strides in promotion of independent artists of various flavours. I’m keen to get a local designer to create the cover of a future book (he said he would, and I’ll hold him to it). Sometimes local, crafted, loved, shines through. Online in 2013, amongst many, I would like to pay special thanks to the continued writerly support of people such as Sonam C. Gyamtsho (who is editor, reviewer, nagger, friend in a far land, all of these), Ty Roper, Exiled Prospero, and Val Cameron.

So, onwards and onwards. Words are love. Keep writing.
 
 

A Sharpness of Words Abroad

Often, following a step abroad, it is precisely the usualities we sought to escape that embrace us with the greatest warmth: the customs, routines, rituals and the slightest nuances of all that surrounds us, and which we’ve known from the earliest of ages without ever seeming to have been taught them, have their innate beauties returned to us. Words, of course, are a seminal factor in all of this. They press on us, in our homelands, in speech we hear on public transport (and which we pay little attention to), fizzing from television screens, in conversations we willingly engage in, on street signs, posturing from adverts, on the roads themselves, in newspapers and magazines and books: all of this and more. I have come home from stepping abroad and I feel embraced.

Out there, out on the European continental mainland, something of my own words coalesced though. (I write it like this because the island-nationer that I am can feel protective of his curious idiosyncrasy, as the mainlanders often see him and his kin as). Out there, the words in public transport hubs, fizzing from television screens, in intensely concentrated-upon conversations in foreign tongues, on street signs and their roads, in adverts and newspapers, magazines and books, all conspired to a point verging on being overwhelming. I can hold the odd and short foreign language conversation, understand a little more of what I’m merely passive to, read some articles in newspapers, depending on their length and depth, unconsciously recognise the gist of some information blurted out at airports, but it leaves a writer feeling somewhat disconnected. Where can he go then but into the texture of the words he knows?

I choose to go abroad to see the people who I know, to experience the irregularity of my sudden place in the world, to be someplace else, to escape and to return. I know this, and so retreating to my island home can never be a permanent fixture. Yet, my island home finds me sometimes, when I leave it. When stepping abroad, this time, this writer disconnected found that something of his home words coalesced. As a means of finishing a book, I now find, stepping outside one’s own words and customs, routines and rituals can have a cauterising effect. I had six stories to write to complete the first draft of my latest offering. I took with me the outline of where I’d reached, folded into the back of my notebook, and I hoped I’d find the words. They found me.

Immersed within the need to consider ideas, gaps within the words, rhythm, flow, the feel of the moments and the whole, I came home with all six of these. They nursed me, out there, when I was overwhelmed by the immensity of the continental mainland and all its ways. They came following, a few days after my departure, caught up with me and settled onto my fingers.

Writing on paper, with a biro, in a foreign land and surrounded by a blur of otherworldliness (albeit an otherworldliness I’ve visited many times before), this time, served as a kind of sterilising of words which came to be. At school, many years ago, I was advised, I remember, never to be concerned about crossing out words and replacing them. This isn’t to say that those words crossed out are wrong, as such: this is to say, now, that there is a richness of words to consider. Writing, out there, I found that the continual re-reading, crossing out, adding, replacing and re-instating of words had a cathartic effect. The result is something I’m pleased with on several levels: the process, the product as it currently is in the clean version transcribed to the file on the screen, the product in all its glorious additions and removals in the paper pages of my notebook. In the latter, the original thought still shines through, beneath the lines, and this only adds to the palimpsest of the whole. On the screen, in the final book, this can’t ever be seen.

On returning home, island me, after stepping abroad this time, I headed straight to the newsagent to buy a paper. I’d missed a while of the real world whilst immersed in other realms, and of course I needed to catch up, but any words in my own language, other than those I’d spoken, conversed in, or written myself, were what I needed most. Then the customs, routines, rituals and the like of my own world flooded in and I felt embraced. My notebook sits on my desk: it is, I feel, loved the more for the punctured precision of its newest words, sharpened by a brief significance of stepping abroad.
 
 

The Space Beyond the Far Word of the Book

It was the gap between words, between books. It was a time of waiting and a time of holding one’s breath. There comes a point when such acquiescence becomes almost fully stretched: waiting becomes taut. It was this: I was busy in other unnecessary pursuits: pursuits not becoming of the fabric in which words will lay themselves. Perhaps it’s this to cause a draught, and words that might settle are floated away (by my own hand at its other tasks). Tenses start to overlap.

I sat because the time for sitting had just touched me. Here, other unnecessary pursuits can wait, and time in sitting is taut. It has been some fair while now, days since you — dear words — have been here. I have finished writing your sibling down: now, where will you rest with me? I sat stretched, though I sat upright.

Out by night, I find, observing, tells words that I am ready for them. Come find me, I suggest. I take my notebook just in case. Sometimes I’m accosted by wordless people who talk and talk at me. They have words unbecoming of the words I wish to settle on me. They are draughts to waft those words in dust and half-light. I don’t open my notebook here: words won’t land.

One night, that night when the fire blazed and I was left largely to my own devices, I knew the stretch of days was nearly at its end. Words landed of their own accord, just notes but words, on my pages. I closed the covers and, for the hours still to come, I left them wriggling.

It is the evening after the gap between words. With the last book finished, the morning ached. Here she is, this first new piece, at last. I call it ‘she’, though this is just a passing reference. It is no longer the gap between words, between the end of one book and the start of the next: now is the gathering of possibilities. It is the moment after the jump, after the fall, after the start. Here we are, and now the gap is no longer a gap: it is a space in which particles start to swim and swill.

It is the space beyond the farthest word of one book . . .
 
 

Book Release: Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume I)

Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume I) Cover Introducing my latest ebook release, ahead of schedule. I had planned to release this collection on or around February 28, but it all came together. Having learned the bulk of what I needed to learn for my first ebook release towards the end of last year, it was just a process of remembering the details. It gets easier, this publication process, especially if you follow the template you’ve devised the first time round.

Now to the book itself. This has not been a quick write. This is fine. I like my words to settle, to take their time, to marinate. Four Kinds of Wreckage (FKoW) is a book of micro-fictions. I’ve been saying to anyone who’ll listen, and for quite some time now, that writing succinctly isn’t always as easy as it might appear. FKoW is comprised of thirty micro-fictions, ‘short shorts’, which range from a mere 60 words in length to just over 700 words.

I would like to make it clear that this collection hasn’t just been trotted out in a couple of hours. On the contrary, it was written in parallel with my other recently published book, Disintegration and Other Stories (DaOS), and the two titles have taken — in total — three years to produce: in the writing, in various peer review processes, in editing, in the loving removal — where necessary — of aspects that needed this. Micro-fiction does not mean micro-thinking!

There are some overlaps in themes in the two books. I aim to produce a ‘body of work’: this is the writing plan. As such, FKoW (Volume I) will inform Volumes II and III. They will be linked. FKoW and DaOS overlap in places. The individual pieces in FKoW each connect, not in characters or storyline or the like, necessarily, but they connect to the piece immediately before and after in the running order. In these ways, this body of work, this density of the written assemblage is gathering around me.

I had aimed to release FKoW for free. However, the cheapest I can release it for, as a permanent price, would appear to be £0.77 / $1.17 / €0,89, etc., at the time of writing (Amazon have an annoying habit of shifting the dollar price, slightly and occasionally, and not making that known). The sterling price of such offerings does seem to remain pretty constant though. This is a short book, so I offer it at the lowest price.

However, I add a caveat to all readers: please read it slowly. My writing pays deliberate attention to the particular words I’ve used, to the rhythm of the piece, to stories within stories, to references to myths or folklore, in places: just because a piece is 200, 300 or 400 words long, only, it doesn’t mean it should be flicked through at pace.

This is one of the points of micro-fiction, as I see it: that much can be transmitted in few words. Hemingway’s famous six worder is a case study (I won’t repeat it here, but you’ll find it if you need to); Kafka wrote a series of short ‘meditations’; Brautigan was keen on brevity; Calvino wrote some beautiful gems . . .

You can find details of how to get a copy of Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume I), and other releases, at the Bookshop link above or click here. Scroll to the bottom of that page to find out about the free Kindle App for PCs (if you don’t own a Kindle device).

I thank you, and if you buy any of my book offerings please do let me know your thoughts on them.
 
 

Interview by Nick Wale

I return from my travels with the possibility of words forming. Until they do, however, the following is a majority excerpt of a recent interview I gave to Nick Wale. Nick helps promote books via his site Novel Ideas and contacted me a few weeks ago through my Facebook writer page (see the link in the side bar here). He’s helped me and I’m happy to help him in his venture by publicising links on my blog. The direct link to the interview below can be found here.
 
Q) So Joel, why did you become an author?

A) It’s a compulsion, a drive, I suppose. When you write you just need to keep on writing.

Q) What does a compulsive drive to write feel like?

A) It often feels like blocking out, locking in, sinking in. You know? Some days it’s a rush. Some days you read and re-read and it’s like you’re looking at something that shines (or might shine) and you want to keep that, show that, have that, always.

Q) Do you ever find it hard to stop yourself from writing? Is it like a daze or a dream you can’t break from?

A) Physically writing (or typing), yes, I suppose. I mean, it can be extremely immersive, as many writers will know. However, that immersion also plays itself out in the day-to-day, pen not in hand, computer not on. Words (or the possibility of them) are everywhere.

Q) Words are your thing as a writer? So what is your favourite word?

A) What an excellent question! A barman asked me what my favourite book was recently (your question reminds me of that): how to pick one? You can tell by the long pause that this has given me cause to think. I can tell you what my most recently learned word is (and, by extension, a current favourite): tenebrous.

Q) Tenebrous? So what does tenebrous mean?

A) It’s to do with the obscure, the dark, as I understand it. This isn’t a reflection of my writing; rather, the word has a sort of rhythmic quality to me.

Q) Well, you have to learn something new everyday! So, lets reflect on your writing. What do you like to write about? Tell me about your writing.

A) In all its forms, long and short, my writing is intended as a means of finding the small gems of this world. There are hidden things in between what we just see on the surface — there are textures and layers to relationships, subtleties, moments. I’m looking for the moments that also linger. There are ‘objects’ of beauty, even in the laments, in many places.

Q) It’s interesting that you write about ‘beauty’, as everyone’s definition of beauty is so different. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written about? What is ‘beautiful’ to you?

A) Well, beauty is subjective, of course, but I’m sometimes taken aback by how things turn out. It’s unexpected. There are moments that happen which I read time and again because they still have some power over me. In one of my stories, a child’s brief interaction with the narrator takes me in every time; in another piece, it was something I wrote in a female voice because I needed to do this more, I was there with her, as her, in Venice because the words were in that flow state; poetry is a vanity, but there are lines of colour and there are lines that sink me sometimes. Questions such as these are like choosing between children!

Q) If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be? What landscape would really incite your creativity?

A) On a beach, in the mountains, in a forest, all of these. Specifically, though I’ve done my fair share of overseas travelling, I’d come back to the west of Cornwall. Standing on the cliffs overlooking some of the little unknown coves down there, the sea and the wind in your hair and on your face, that huge sky (it really is huge, like they say in their tourism promotions), makes words just come in for me. The artists there laud it for the light; I just can’t get enough of the energy.

Q) I understand that you’re published so others can enjoy your creative energy. Which of your works are currently available?

A) I’ve got a collection out at the moment (Disintegration and Other Stories). I loosely label this as literary fiction (though that term can be interpreted in many ways). DaOS is out in ebook and print. This collection came together in an odd way: I didn’t realise that there’d been a thread running through some of my writings for a number of years. It was like seeing invisible ink slowly become visible. I’m working on a collection of micro fiction, which will be a first volume (Four Kinds of Wreckage) to be added to. Micro fiction is much misunderstood. Away from fiction, I’m also published in the field of what’s known as ‘playwork’ (a particular way of working with children). I’ve had writings taken on by the national/international playwork publication for the sector, as well as credits with the organisation concerned with psycholudic playwork practice. (Now though, I fear I’m stepping into the jargon of my other calling — though writing is also a big part of this, too).

Q) So tell me, Joel — why did you want to be interviewed by me?

A) You do a good job of finding writers, Nick. When I became aware of your work I came over to your blog, and yes, I like what I see here. What you’re doing is exactly what writers need — a way of getting their words out there.

Q) Thank you, Joel. One of my stock questions is to ask — if you could be any writer from any time who would it be?

A) As far as writers are concerned, I have a range (as we all do probably): Milan Kundera, Gabriel García Márquez, Jeannette Winterson, Iain Banks, Ian McEwan, Italo Calvino, Jack Kerouac, Neil Gaiman, Adrian Henri. There are others. I wouldn’t want just one small list to define me, though we start somewhere with questions such as these.

Q) Characters are important to you. What makes a good character for you?

A) The unusual wrapped up in the usual. Subtlety people often might not see. The strangely put. Love in odd places, ways; perceptions of this. Someone who aches in some way.

Q) It has often been said that ‘repeated readability makes a book’. Would you, as an author, agree with that?

A) Yes, I think I would. Who was it who said that journalism is read once, whilst literature more than this? Something like that. Anyway, it’s the sentiment here that counts. There are books on my shelf that I come back to time and again; there are passages on some pages that just astound me. Kerouac wrote about ‘fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries’ in On the Road. I come back to that time and again.

Q) You strike me as an intellectual — someone striving for the beautiful things in life. Would you agree with that?

A) I don’t know about intellectual! I certainly am on the search for the beauty of the world though. That’s in words, in moments, in art, in love and lament, in the play of children, in the play of us, in nature.

Q) What would you personally deem as ‘ugly’?

A) There’s nothing so ugly as not wanting to see, perhaps. Ugliness is also wrapped up in the politics of power, greed, deceit.

[End of excerpt]
 
 

On This Subjective Idea of Beauty

Continuing my recent theme of objects of beauty, I’m thinking on a word that could describe such things collectively. That is, whilst absolutely acknowledging that the idea of beauty is entirely subjective, how can I describe how certain objects are for me? Is it their ‘feel’, their ‘texture’, their ‘weight’? By these words, I don’t mean the physical properties of dimensions, roughness/smoothness, heaviness/lightness, size, density, etc., necessarily. These properties do come into it, of course, but I want a word to describe objects of beauty in the abstract manner.

I don’t know if there are any more appropriate words: the feel of this book, the texture of the writing, the weight of the whole, for example. For reasons that link to all of this, I’ve decided to reset the release date of my next (micro fiction) ebook collection. This isn’t the main reason for this post (as I say, I’m in a themed thinking mode at the moment regarding art and creativity). I have been watching the counter tick down in the box to the right (regarding the release of Four Kinds of Wreckage). I set this a few weeks back precisely to focus my writing and editing energies. Everything’s written, but it just needs a little time in settling. I won’t put anything out there unless I can see it as, potentially, an object of beauty. FKoW is being given another month.

Now, all this thinking on beauty (subjective though it is), leads me to needing to ‘show and tell’ on objects I’ve found. I want to ‘show’ you five things, but I’m a writer so I want to write them to you. They’re not all books, but they do all affect me in some way.
 
Sa Femme (Emmanuèle Bernheim)

I have a small 1994 copy of this beautiful little book, translated from the original French and published by Viking, sat at the end of one of my bookshelves. It fits in the palm: a gold and black simple dustcover to its hardback. It’s slim, elegant, and was found somewhere, once, perhaps, in some old bookshop nobody really knew about. It must have been this way because this is the way with all the books I have that fall into this category. Somehow, generally, the books bought from the big bookshop chains don’t seem to have a similar ‘feel’.
 
Leave Your Sleep (Natalie Merchant)

In 2010, one of my favourite recording artists — Natalie Merchant — released this absolutely exquisite collection of songs on double CD on the Nonesuch label. The songs are all poems about- for- or by children, and they’re collected from various sources and spanning centuries. What makes this collection special is the craft and love that seems to have gone into the detail: the collection comes with its own book; Natalie spent several years building up to the project, working with over a hundred musicians across a range of styles. I keep this collection very safe.
 
Blank Notebooks

Hand made paper, smooth or textured; a leather hard casing; empty pristine space that part of me doesn’t want to blemish. I think for a long, long time on what to put in pages like these. Words or drawings there have to do the notebook justice. I have some notebooks that have stayed empty for many years.
 
Collected Poems, 1967-1985 (Adrian Henri)

I hadn’t heard of Adrian Henri before finding him, or rather this collection, in a bookshop something like fifteen years ago. We need to rummage in bookshops (the proper ones with creaking floors and several stories winding up narrow staircases to quiet, unmanned little rooms somewhere up and up). We need to rummage because we never know what we’ll find. I found a collection of love in many forms here. I found the way that Adrian used and fused words in new and odd ways, and the way that he made poetry out of lists of Nivea cream and other discarded cosmetics. There are snippets and prints and photos and longer pieces and it all builds up to a significant body of work.
 
Heaven and Other Poems (Jack Kerouac) and Letters to a Young Poet (Rainer María Rilke)

These two books I relate as one here. They’re both slim (there’s something about ‘slim’ that seems to translate to some form of beauty in books); they’re both odd but in different ways, though ‘odd’ here is perhaps more to do with being ‘not contemporary’; most importantly though, they were both sent to me, out of the blue, by an artist friend in Kansas. It is this that imbues more of a sense of ‘special’ in them. One person has taken the time to think, find, and send a book, twice.

Objects of beauty are beautiful in many ways, though I don’t know what could describe them all.
 
 

Writing Processes: Ways of Seeing

‘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?
 
 

The Feel of New Year’s Day Writing

There is a story I have always wanted to write. Actually, truth be told, I don’t know what that story is, but I do know the ‘feel’ of it. I know the texture and the pace of it. I know how it might linger. The first day of January, every year, tends to bring about the general feel of this story. I’ve written it in several ways, though it’s never the same story. You see, I’m just exploring the ‘feel’ of it, not the story itself. Today, this first day of January, is no different.

It is beautiful when words come together. When I drive and I think of the story that has been playing itself through me for years (the story I don’t yet know, the characters I haven’t yet met), I don’t approach that story in the usual way. I don’t think of a character’s name or a scene or a possible ending or a beginning: I think of the ‘fabric’ of the piece. That ‘fabric’ is snow and ice. That’s the only way to describe it.

The snow and ice of this place, this space, this story that runs through me, is not the physical snow and ice of a scene (although there is likely to be snow and ice there eventually). The snow and ice is what runs through it all. If this is sounding too pretentious, I apologise! This is the way it needs to be described right now.

So, as it’s January 1st, and as it’s that time when this story finds me, every year, I write: I wrote The Ice House because it’s part of a greater whole. As with my other current writing, if it sinks into something to be loved, in the shortness of time, it will be included in the next collection. I have high hopes for it because it’s part of the ‘feel’ of something bigger, something that’s been here a long time. If it slips away, not included (which I suspect it won’t), it will embed itself in the continuing magnum that forms the greater whole that is ‘New Year’s Day writing’.

If you’re writing, do you have similar bodies of work developing? The way that others write is a story in itself.