Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 214 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis


I woke up this morning, turned on the news, and discovered I was not one of the Powerball winners. So I decided I might as well take a shower and go to my day job. (Heavy damned sigh!) I also haven't heard back from a couple of people whose work I had hoped to feature as part of the ASKEW POETS series, so let's move on for now. There will be other poets and writers, and perhaps some of the visual and musical disciplines as we move along.
Being as I won't be fulfilling my daydream of hanging out in my skivvies, sipping coffee on a front porch in North Western Montana in the foreseeable future, I thought we might continue addressing the process of writing and art. One of the things we all have to overcome is a vision that is too far ranging. We set out to accomplish that historical epic, or pen the first work in what we project as a mystery trilogy, or attempt something in social commentary with Tom Wolfe's insightful style as a pattern and, when we sit down to the typewriter or terminal, everything goes blank. It's like the muse flushed your mind with inspirational Drano!
So you sit, and sit, and then get up and stretch. You go make a snack. Followed immediately with baking brownies. You get in a couple of games of Angry Birds. You make dinner. Then watch whatever it is you watch on the TV. All four of the episodes you recorded on Tivo. By the time you've showered, brushed your teeth and come back in to shut off the typewriter or tower, you've put down bupkus! Nada! Zilch!
Perhaps you're not a writer? Maybe that last essay for your creative writing seminar did you in? You've gone to the well too often? You consider cancelling your subscription to Writer's Digest. How did this happen?
Yup, you've done what all of us have done at some point. You've so internalized your story that the sense of discovery went missing. You worked the story up so well in your head that you've forgotten what it was that inspired you to take this thing on. You have already told yourself the whole thing and taken away some of your own interest in the project. Free writing is a way to get it back.
Well, first things first, forget what it is you eventually want to get on to paper and just get anything on to paper. Leave the keyboard alone and invest in legal pads or composition books. (I use both.) Start out by just picking some key word, a character's name, the location, the period (if it isn't the present), the weather, food, drink, music...WHATEVER! Doodle in the margins. Scratch things out. Use circles, arrows, and cryptic notes to re-arrange things.  Forget how it is supposed to tie this to that or progress through your tale. Just write about that one damned thing!
Second, don't think about what you're writing! Just write. Let go of concepts and structure. Write unrelated sentences. Make lists. Compare "there" to somewhere else. Some other time to now. Write physical descriptions of people. Be thorough, intimate, NAUGHTY! But don't stop to ponder. JUST WRITE! RIGHT?
Does this mean that what you're putting down is what you were looking for? Well, no. Most of it is going to be total drivel. But there will more than likely be that kernel that you can build on. That something that might not even apply until you're thirty or forty percent of the way through the work - but you have that, and it is better than the White Abyss you had before.
Maybe you're now feeling the guilt because you set a goal of fifteen hundred words a day or five pages? Forget goals. If you get three pages, or one, or a well crafted sentence - Ta-Da! - You're on your way. In that lies the answer to that time honored question, "How does one eat an elephant?" Why, one bite at a time, of course. That is how we write a story of any length. As you pile up enough bites you will find your appetite whetted and will from time to time sit down to glorious feasts of words. Just keep in mind that this is the first draft and the hard work of digesting the beast comes in the rewrites.
Just a helpful hint from your Uncle Dane.
Dane F. Baylis
"This one's over the freakin' line!"
"Your ass is over the line!"
"So's your mother's."
"Hey! Don't be sayin' shit about someones mother!"
The rules were written
In sunshine blasted strips
Between the blocks
Of deep tenement shadows
In the side streets
Off the busy avenues
In clean white t-shirts
Stretched over hairless chests
In the sound of life
In the neighborhood.
"Hey, Diane! Those yours or d'they come with the sweater?"
"Screw you, Ricky!"
"I can only hope."
"Play the game, scumbag!"
Tight blue jeans
Filter tips
And a six pack of Bud'
Under the bushes
The sweet taste of
Impending manhood
Girls in knots
With slender tan legs
Dancing short skirts
Their smiles swirling
Noon sun on windshields.
"Hey, Angie! Dance at the K of C on Friday?"
"Can't do it, Sean."
"Your ol' man still pissed?"
"He's gonna kick your ass!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
In spray paint
On school yard pavement
In the hot sun
On rooftop tar
In the sweat of young bodies
In secret places.
In promises
And lies
And hidden tears
And dreams of getting
Out of here.
"John T. Devlin!"
"In a minute, Ma!"
"Right now, Young Man!"
"Throw the ball ya lame-o!"
All of it
Written in the sting
The palm buzzing vibration
Of a stick ball bat
Your heart racing
Chasing that half-ball
In a clean
Hard driven arch
Out over the freakin' line
Because your dreams
Of sports cars
And houses on the North Shore
Are out there
Beyond the second manhole cover
In the home run zone
And are alive in the brag
That hides the knowing
The not knowing
If it was you
Or just the way it was written
In the rules
In the sunshine blasted strips
Between the blocks
Of deep tenement shadows
In the side streets
Off the busy avenues.
Any of my work I post here will be archived in the MY WORK/ MY LOVE Section of the blog, just as other writer's work is kept in the YOUR WORK/YOUR LOVE Section., love, write.
Want to follow or subscribe to this blog? There are gadgets for that on the right side of the page. You can leave comments in the form below. I can be reached directly at . You can also find links to some of the sites I visit from time to time on the right. I'm also looking for submissions to the Your Work/Your Love page. Authors retain all rights.
Dane F. Baylis

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