I was at an event once where a writer (a good writer, whom I admire) was attempting to win a literary trivia game and not doing very well. She burst out in frustration, “What the fuck! I’m a WRITER, not a READER!”
I hope she was joking.
But, truthfully, I have often met writers who say this, and many similar things. I’ve heard, “I don’t have time to read books.” And, “Writers are supposed to be loners; workshops are for losers.” And, “I don’t waste time at literary events.”
Do you ever feel like that? Get over it.
Suggestions for this week:
(1) Attend a literary event that you have never gone to before [there are plenty of options this week]. Check out Litseen’s calendar for suggestions. When you get home, play journalist and write it up. Put your best effort into this exercise. Try to capture the mood of the place, the people there, the work presented. Be generous and be honest.
(2) Re-read a favorite novel or poem. Pick one you haven’t looked at in a long time. For just this week, give your reading more priority than your writing. Fill the well, so to speak. On a personal note, my re-reading of Moby Dick over the past few weeks has been one of the most exciting intellectual/creative adventures I’ve had in years. Remember, you were a reader before you were a writer. When you are done, write about it. Make your best effort.
(3) Experiment with divination. Tarot cards, astrology (not the horoscope column in the newspaper—chart your own), I Ching and runes are some possibilities. Or do a little research and find a system you like. Divination is one of the original sources of storytelling and its fun. You don’t have to “believe.” Perhaps the most fascinating divination system for a writer is that of Ifa. But that is a matter of taste. This experiment can be your own divination or a consultation with an expert. In either case, take time to write it up.
(4) Visit a new place. Leave town, even if it’s only 10 miles. Take the Bart or a train if necessary. Make a map of the new place. Indicate landmarks. Try to imagine life in the new place. Write a story or a poem set in the new place. Can’t do that? Write a travel article. It doesn’t matter. Just write something. As always, make your best effort.
(5) If you have experimented with the shamanic journeying exercise previously described here, draw a map of your shamanic world. Include symbols and pictures. If you like the journeying process, keep at it and keep adding to the map. If this really appeals to you a lot, I recommend this book by Stephen King as an example of where this sort of thing can lead.
Consider sending in your results (email@example.com). We would like to publish these as part of this column—no more than 500 to 700 words, please.
The Storming Bohemian