March 30, 2007

Leaving the Middle Way

I want to write some of these posts more carefully, taking more time for thought and revision, and also I want to toss some of them off more quickly, just seeing where my instantaneous thoughts lead my fingers over the keyboard -– a sort of literary ouija board exercise.

I want to do both. I want to leave the comfort of my usual way of working, which is a middle way, a way of doing enough to clean up the immediately painful failings but not enough to be a protractedly painful effort. Pain avoidance all around. The old one-draft-plus-a-whisk-through method.

I want to expand in both directions along the continuum.

What would my writing be like if I dug all the way down, unstintingly, without sparing myself, trusting that the way to refill the tank was to empty it with each use? What would it be like if I breezed along laughingly, tumbling past the obsessively surveyed, endlessly repaced and recalibrated border of what the map calls "me"?

My quick sketches often please me more than my careful layering. For a long time much of my best writing has been in personal letters (what your people call “emails”). I let loose in them, I feel a flash and sizzle in my prose and a fire in my perceptions. I like the twitchy, transitionless shifts from subject to subject; it makes me feel sparks –- makes me feel like I’m writing to someone. I like anacolutha, I like asyndeton. (And parentheses -- and dashes.)

This post, for instance… Well, I won’t tell you how hard I worked on it.

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