How do you write, creatively? Big question with zillions of words written on the subject. This was a short impressionistic urging on the subject from 2014.
Whatever it is, it must have
A stomach that can digest
Rubber, coal, uranium, moons, poems.
Like the shark it contains a shoe.
It must swim for miles through the desert
Uttering cries that are almost human.
– Louis Simpson, “American Poetry”
The world is a massive bath of words. It’s a laden table of prose while a small hunger looks on. There is simply too much to keep up; read a book a day and you still drift further and further behind the growing mass of writing that is out there.
But to be fair so much of it is still pretty weary flat and stale to part quote the Bard – still the benchmark. Content is king. We long for great writing to warm us.
But how do you enrich your writing? And not write in a boring way? How do you bring colour and fascination and the unexpected to your writing without sacrificing clarity and meaning?
You have to be a bit of a magpie I reckon. Somewhere you keep a nest with bits of purple wool and old tacks, a bottletop, a torn muddy playing card… It’s about collecting imagery and stories. Memories of people and emotions. Tears, anger…laughter. Things people said…or left unsaid.
Near the sea? Keep a driftwood chest, with shells and wood, objects the sea gave back. Things with texture. Broken things. Smelly things. They should tell a story, give you colours and shapes that inspire. Inland, find a high country cave and stash whatever you find that’s memorable.
What do you read? What do you listen to? You should collect great snippets. Wonderful lines. Assonance, consonance. Internal rhymes, near rhymes. Feel the perfect form of a great haiku. But also nonsense words. Jabberwocky-isms. Splendidly clumsy statements.
File it all away somewhere and peruse it on the occasional rainy day.
And let the writing come. Don’t copy, just let these things influence your own voice. Watch out late at night when the brain at rest starts playing with the muse – don’t lose those fragments.
Some starters for 10: George Orwell’s Six, Joni Mitchell on Beale Street, Guy Garvey’s Mirrorball, Robert Bly’s snowflake and his spirit horses, Macbeth’s sleep, southern olives and arabic volutes…James Lee Burke’s electric mist.
We need these candles.