Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tickle marriage with bacon ceremony for queet

My write up of the 8th story in Brian Evenson's Fugue State is live now at the EWN, please check it out?

As I typed that I was brought my contributor copy of Dzanc's Best of the Web 2009, in which I have 3 pieces and an interview, it looks amazing as an object and to hold, I can't wait to dig in.

Recently I have been writing a series of short paragraphs in the mind of Bernhard's The Voice Imitator one at a time, on Saturday I started one and ended up writing 2000 words, which since then has become 6000 words, and I think there is a novel in the oncoming, as the further I go in the writing the more there is to need to say.

I haven't felt in a while like I was writing something that feels the way this does, but it feels good to be in the presence of something moving.

The paragraph had become inspired directly by reading Evenson's 'Bauer in the Tyrol,' which hit me, strangely, with an idea rather than a sentence, as I had not written in the mode of 'ideas' in a long while, but instead being thrown forth in chasing an initial sentence, and following the sound and rhythm of that sentence to its end.

Evenson is interesting I think in that his stories manage to both have the battery and brains of an idea based text, in that there is a mode there and a palpable growing of mood and direction, but also sent forth on sentences that are driven by sound and tone.

This is different than, say, Beckett, who is less about ideas and more about sound completely, letting the sound dictate the ideas more than vice versa, and also different than most 'narrative' texts, where the plot or pushing forward often seems less interested in sentences that carry themselves than they are about sentences that carry forward some propulgation (even if they sound good).

Writers I like that I would say let their sentences dictate the mode more than the idea (which then fuels the idea): Christine Schutt, Joyelle McSweeney, Ben Marcus, Jean Genet, Diane Williams, Ander Monson, David Markson, Peter Markus, Robert Lopez, William Gass...

Writers I like that I would say let their ideas dictate the mode more than the sentence (which then fuels the sentence): Donald Antrim, George Saunders, Dennis Cooper, Gert Jonke, Derek White, Stephen Dixon, Paul Auster, Matthew Derby, Donald Barthelme, W.G. Sebald, Robert Coover, Steve Erickson, Jesse Ball, Jose Saramago, William Gay, Amy Hempel, A.M. Homes, Kelly Link, Norman Lock, David Foster Wallace, Julia Slavin, Nicholson Baker....

Barry Hannah I think falls into all of these camps in different hats, as does maybe Cormac McCarthy and William Burroughs. Michael Kimball and Stanley Crawford also both have made works that might, in feel, seem split between the two modes.

zodes soda hats eeky


It is an interesting divide, somewhat, in that the authors whose sentences seem the inspiration more than what is being said are of a certain ilk, as is how is the saying, while those of the idea tend to have a different texture, which is communicable among the reading as clearly as it likely feels to be in the minute of the word.

I have spent all of this year so far entirely writing in the moment of the sentence first, with the story therein divising itself from the language, leading me without really knowing where I am going. This has always been a much more palpable way of saying something that surprises me, which as I have said before, How can you expect to surprise anyone if you are not surprising yourself?

But what about when the idea comes first, and then asks for you to divine the sentences that push it? This has always been slightly more difficult for me, a mixed bag wherein I often fail more often than I succeed, though when I do use the idea first and am able to make the sentences live up to it, it often seems the thing that resonates even longer. Why?

Sentences carry their own ideas, in the blood.

Ideas do not carry their own sentences, the sentence must be derived or divined.

Humans are ill at ideas, rare is the human idea that is new and good, and yet ideas can likewise be divined, perhaps? Ideas can shit down out of nowhere like a money box, and stutter through you like the words do, maybe?

Ideas can be channeled, funneled, too, in the way of not knowing,

so the question then begins about impulse

becomes about how in the body to trick the mind into saying the thing it did not know it was going to say in its front part of its face but knew in knowing that it wanted to say, and had wanted to say, and will continue to try to keep saying

The less-thought thought borne from the sentence or from the idea being the cake meat you were hiding

and can then walk on

and be less hungry and more hungry

dualities being the bomb




ass talk is fun, how bout i eat my dick eh

as is what makes you say what you should have been saying is doors to teach yourself mmmm light


John Dermot Woods said...

Good timing on this post, Blake. I'm sitting here, finishing my rewrite (?) of The Voice Imitator (first draft at least), and decided to take a break. It's amazing to find that someone else working the same ground at the same time. Back to the notebook...


i think i've found that in trying to write in that 'mode' of VI, it's fucking impossible for me. they seem so easy, and they are so so hard, for me. but its nice trying, as it spurs out something different entirely, like this novel now

excited to see your rewrite! i wanna see how you've approached it

John Dermot Woods said...

It jars something loose. It's like "Wait, he just did nothing, but it's devastating." I think it's impossible for me too, but I'm writing things I've never written before. I'm trying to use as little as I can to create something. Write stories that you have to work hard not to ignore, but, if you decide to pay attention, will do something to you. We'll see if it happens...


totally. man, excited to read that. also for your book coming soon. be sure to send me word so i can spread it!

Ken Baumann said...

Keep going you two! I look forward to both.

Blake: I feel that I've in my writing done both the idea predicate and the sentence predicate. The sentence story has almost always been more exhilarating in creation, and easier. The idea story has been always harder, always harder, much harder, but ultimately I think 'better' or more full of meat, and I get a deeper sense of exhilaration and catharsis when done with the whole, whereas with a sentence driven thing I always feel a little empty after, like I just J'd a deep 3 but didn't win the game, i.e. quick trick.

I have felt in between both camps, buzzing, maybe twice to three times in my whole life. That is truly the best feeling, the One to strive for, maybe?

This post has me thinking of the Milch videos I blab about all the time: his tenet, 'Rest transparently in the spirit which gives you rise', i.e. when you're completely open and working hard through whatever is running through you, that is the best feeling and should be the best feeling because in doing what runs through you you are the ultimate expression of all as One, the big One. Etc. Which is all a bit more lovey-dovey than it needs to be w/r/t writing styles, but the point applies, I think, thusly: When you were more 'open' to the sentence game, the sentence game ran through you. When, as you are now, you are open to the idea game, the idea runs through you, even though it runs slower because it is harder.

& you can tell I'm reading Infinite Jest because I'm bubb bubb bubbbbing alot.

Good luck brother.

Ken Baumann said...

And to use last September again as an example: you were totally idea expression driven, and yet the sentences were/are so good. With the idea burn the language mind will still thrive, in the best of it.

Anonymous said...

I like to try to be dichotomous with how I scrawl.

I tend to begin writing about an idea but with no real place to go and then I let how and what I'm writing open up that idea into a bigger thing.

Most of my favorite works are those which hide which kind of piece they are (idea-driven or sentence-driven). Books that come to mind off the top of my head are The Road, As I Lay Dying, anything by Lorrie Moore. On the whole, I'm idea-driven-driven, but that has to do more with my own personal historical perspective and less with pure possibility of what either can be. I haven't had a strong real real connection with a sentence-driven work, not in the way I have connections with multitudes of idea books.

I think Barry Hannah talks a lot about voice being the most important thing, especially a writer having his/her own voice, writing from his/her guts, etc, etc. I like this VOICE idea because depending on what kind of writer you are, your voice will decide which is which, in a way, I think, maybe.


i dont know, i dont think anthing i've written in the past year or 2 has been idea based at all. even the stuff that feels that way came from sentences and sound totally.

again, of course there are ideas to sentence writers, and their texts, ben marcus is stuffed with ideas. it's more for me a question of where the words are coming from in your head: are you thinking ideas and then trying to make sentences that fit them, or are you making sentences out of sound


hannah i feel like is sentences whether he likes it or not, especially the later you get in his career

he does love voice, but the voice comes from the sentence.

Anonymous said...

Hannah has always said, I think, that sentences are very important to him, more so than some of his counterparts, i.e. Larry Brown. But, to me, at least, voice is something that exists so entirely before sentences are even written. I think, for some writers, that a writer's voice is a constant thing, no matter how differently their sentences come out, or which new ideas they are employing. Voice is the only thing, in a way, that I think writers can actually claim as their own. Sentences and ideas are a part of it, but voice is the culmination of everything. So, I guess, ultimately, it's the voice that matters more than either of these two 'modes' of writing or whatever.

This conversation has been very illuminating, or at least it's helped me organize some ideas I've had floating around in my head without any real heft or true physicality. Thanks, Blake.


hmm, interesting. but isnt voice itself derived specifically from sound? from the way the syllables and phrases hit off one another in a way unlike other syllables and phrases to give the sentences their size?

i dont know, i think for me voice is a product, and not a generator of, the impetus of making lines. but that's just me.

for instance, how often does someone writing sit down and say: 'how does this character's voice sound?'

i can't imagine that being an effective approach.

instead, you make the sentences, and they dictate each other on their own terms, and from that carrying on of the dictation, and the sound resonances between, the voice comes out.

i think hannah in particular is an example of that, perhaps


i like your thoughts michael, it made me feel better for babbling here about babbling

Anonymous said...

I see what you mean, Blake, and I feel like we are working with two different, personal ideas of what voice is, mine being that voice is more of an inherent quality within the writer (I balk at likening it to a soul, but I don't know any other way of explaining it), and yours being a physical product of the piece itself, both being entirely valid, at least in my mind. Actually, both seem to exist simultaneously, which I guess puts us back to the beginning.


i agree. how the words come is how they come, and good. :)