Tag Archives: Writing

Writing Praxis – From Passion to Practice


It’s my birthday, so I’ve given myself permission to write something self obsessed to try and dig myself out of a frustrating hole.

I think of myself as a writer. I spent two years tricking myself into actually being one through the creative practice/experiment/collaboration of awesome that was Unstruck. By working with other people and setting myself arbitrary deadlines, targets, and systems of expectation, I wrote over 250,000 words about everything under the sun.

It was quite fun.

For that period, I felt creatively engaged, challenged and entertained. The way that I was working with different people meant that even if I didn’t feel happy with my own work, I could see other people being interested, and look at these stunning illustrations that had indirectly had my input. It was quite incredible. Last September(ish) I decided that as it approached 500 posts (of 500 words a piece) I should stop, have a break, and do something new.

Guess what happened.

I’m still broken, it seems. In the intervening period I’ve probably written about four pieces. I did about 10,000 words of a novel for nanowrimo, but realised that I was killing a good idea for a story, and so stopped before it sucked all the joy out of it (that story is still pootling around the back of my head, so I think this may have been the right thing). I’ve written a few politically inspired pieces on here that I’m faintly happy with, and one gig review that was probably a bit too self indulgent.

I do think Unstruck is ‘finished’ and so I want to do something new, but I appear to have forgotten how. Let me explain a few of the ideas I’ve had to get me back on track, and see what you think. Please tell me if you’d like to see these actually happen, as that might help.

  • Unconsequence – A sequel to Unstruck, getting rid of the questions, but chaining all the pieces together. An illustration is written about, and then the writing is illustrated, and then that illustration is written about (hopefully differently), and then that writing is illustrated and so on for eternity (or until there’s a natural end). I think this could me much harder work for me and the illustrators, and has more potential than Unstruck to go horribly, horribly wrong, but…well, it’s appealing, as I know this sort of system could motivate me, and it could lead to more ‘fiction-like’ pieces than Unstruck allowed. I would need more illustrators to get on board though, and I think it would need more commitment than Unstruck.
  • Sharing Needles – I hate writing about music, but perhaps if I explored individual records in a deeply personal way (without being allowed to use the adjective ‘visceral’ unless talking about actual viscera, for example), I could challenge this. This all leapt out of realising that the moment I put the needle on certain disco records, I feel like I’ve made a decision to self medicate my bouts of depressiveness. And it works. Records as medication, hence the needles, writing about it, hence the sharing. One of the things I like here is that Emma could do illustrations, based on distortions and manipulations of the album covers I was discussing. She seemed ‘up for this’.
  • Thingsnowball – Another blog, this time based on ‘things’ and the cascades of thought that can build up around them. Basically, an excuse to write what I wanted, with the caveat that it had to be based on a particular thing encased at the top of the article, be it a quote, a picture, a sculpture, a piece of music, a sculpture or whatever. I would encourge people to send me things to write about, as the audience participation element of Unstruck really kept me on my toes.
  • The Land of Cows and Bees (working title) – Stepping away from blogs (unless I decide to write it as a fake blog), this is my failed nanowrimo, reimagined some. Basically, a not hugely successful journalist, writing about fortean hoaxes in a cynical way, gets invited to the heart of a secretive cult (on a Scientology scale) to interview the nameless and massively private leader. The leader proceeds to be a complete money grubbing dick, but also performs genuine, impossible miracles. Journo has to work out what this means for the universe. I’ve got a good climactic scene in my head for this, but I’ve still not nailed how to write proper fiction without strangling myself in overindulgence. I like this idea enough that I don’t want to do it too soon.
  • ‘The Vampire Jesus project’ (a nonfunctional placeholder)- This resurfaced today, after reading about Pope Innocent VIII drinking the blood of three young boys, to try and save himself from dying. His anti-science stance had led him to ban the translation of a document about blood circulation into latin, so he wasn’t aware this wasn’t how you did blood transfusions. He died, so did the boys. I’ve been intrigued for years about the vampiric symbolism of the catholic mass, and would quite like to write something about the intensely blasphemous notion that Jesus was the Ur-Vampire, and that the ‘true’ christianity is only practiced by vampires. The council of Nicea tried to eradicate this and turn catholicism into something a bit more humanic. Vampires are massively overdone, so I’m not sure about this one, but it does intrigue me just because I think it would make a good comic. Would need a pretty dedicated collaborator to make this work in the long run though. I’d also be shocked if nobody has already thought of this idea and ran with it.

You get the idea. Possibly. I do still have ideas, but I’m not executing them. Fear and paranoia and not wanting to leave a further string of failed projects littering the internet hold me back. The heartfelt conviction that I am a writer, can’t bear writing too much more dreadful prose. Unstruck practiced a certain type of writing, and I think made me a thousand times better, so part of me knows that all I need is to get writing, and keep writing until terrible becomes good.

But ideas. Ideas. They are slippery.

Sometimes I realise that I am just not creative. I don’t have a million ideas, and I’m terrified of running out. Unstruck didn’t exercise that muscle, because the people asking the questions had to do all the heavy lifting. Those two story ideas upstairs? One is the only really workable one I’ve had in the last year. The other is about five years old. I’m not churning these out daily.

So I have a few options. I can jump into another blog project (I am addicted to starting new blogs, but never writing them), with a big system and a programme of thought and all those things that help me focus. I can start writing ‘novels’ and try and get some of the big stories out. Or I can spend time properly formulating. Planning, Trying to force myself into being more creative by pushing my brain into new places. I’ve been reading semi-random sections from Scarlet Thomas’ creative writing book recently, and it’s really firing me up to spend some time actually exploring ‘devices’ for goading me into creativity. Judging from how much inspiration I’ve had from just thinking about it, this seems worthwhile.

But it’s all so easy to put aside.

I get excited by things (if you’ve met me or read me for a while, you probably know this). I’m a jack-of-all-interests, master of nothing. I find myself constantly diving from one interest to another. I want to make a boardgame, at the moment. And don’t know if I should let myself be distracted from writing by this. My bones don’t tell me who I am, they just tell me that I have this passion. These passions.

But how to I put passion into practice, when I’m such a flittering, ranting, rambling, moody, lost and vortexed mess.

The truth is, I just need to do it.

I know this, and I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year throwing my life into turmoil so that I have the mental-space and time-space in which to do it. Now I have to do it.

Perhaps it’ll be hubristic, but I’m thinking of this piece not as a blog, but a line in the sand. Not a barrier, but a line stretching out in front of me, clearly delineating that something must be done.

If I don’t start doing it now, and have come a long way when I look at this again in a years orbit. I will be filled with shame and self loathing. My brain is fragile enough that I can’t afford to do this.

So it’s write or die. Apparently.

Wish me luck. Feed me encouragement. Goad me, challenge me and shake me until I’m writing. If you like, tell me what to write. I promise that if anyone asks me to write something, I will write it. I won’t necessarily let you publish it on your money making website, but I will write it.

And I’m going to work, and it’s going to work.

I hope.


Illustration by Emma, not specifically for this piece, but for a birthday card, which freaked me the hell out.


The Unbearable Darkness of Mountains – Uncivilisation 2011

Last night, as the sun set, I wandered into the woods. Dosed up with Valerian and on barely any sleep (third hangover of the year, too soon after the second) I was already hazy, and I became totally and utterly conscious of how terrible my eyes were.

In the dark of the evening, as everything turns into greys and blues, everything seems to dance. When I stopped walking to take stock, the sound wrapped around me. Tiny titters of birds, bleating lambs far away, owls some closer. But closer, there were the snaps of twigs, the rustle of leaves, the shifting undergrowth and mulch. Footsteps not mine. Movement all around.

And me in the middle, vaguely terrified, and unable to tell what movement was my eyes playing tricks, and what was the forest itself.

It was incredible. Not least when I understood, as my sense reached their limits, that this was all playing around me, but I was nowhere near the centre. All around me was life that cared not for me. I was barely a part of it, even as I felt connected to it. This swirl of noise, the clatter of life, slowly going it’s own way.

I was not in the middle. The world was. I was just a tiny thought, drifting across the surface.

This was the evening after Uncivilisation 2011, the second ‘festival’ of the Dark Mountain Project. It was the first time it started to feel really uncivilised, and was an incredibly intense experience. Not quite has scary as returning to the city, and feeling some of those sensations again, only related to the thing I’m supposed to be used to. The swirl of noise and the clatter of life, amplified and drowned out all at once, but I’ll get to that. Maybe.

Basically, it was a weekend for creative types interested in the manifesto of the Dark Mountain, to get together and talk. There was a lot of great talk. There was a lot of fascinating stories and people. There was so much going on in a very small space, often seemingly rushing towards you like the ground as you fall.

My brain is genuinely aching. Though my heart is swollen.

I didn’t really expect it to be like this. I was expecting to hear politics and get fired up. I was hoping to learn and grow and solidify.

Instead, I just feel like I have been put in contact with a part of me that has been missing.

This is also good.

I’m not going to talk too much about the speakers and the talks, or even the bands. I’m sure other people will post much more eloquent responses and critiques of what was said. I don’t remember many huge bombshells in the actual programme. Nobody has many answers about what to do next apart from look after yourself, pay attention, listen to stories, tell your stories, and learn how to live with less.

Possibly the simplest and most obviously true statement of the weekend was something along the lines of  ‘get better at enjoying non-material things, because if you want to be happy, those are going to be the only things you can rely on’.

In shorter, if everything runs out, make sure you’ve got something that can’t run out to make your heart sing.

That wasn’t actually shorter, was it.

I’m not good at brevity right now, maybe. I’ve got a lot of listening to try and take in and and process. At some point I think a lot of things in my brain are going to pop, in various different ways.

The weekend clicked for me about five times, after initially seeming like something utterly contradictory and so somewhat failed. When people who are talking about the end of the world get angry and self righteous about a cafe only having jacket potatoes left, it makes you wonder. Dougald, one of the organisers, noted that someone on twitter had described the festival as ‘luddites with iPhones’, he was aware of the irony. Smari pointed out earlier (quite probably joking, but still quite probably right), the people who were prepared were probably somewhere else, being prepared. This was not a place to learn how to prepare for the apocalypse. This was a place to talk.

Which seemed kind of pointless.

Until. Well. Until it started to feel right. Until I realised that this wasn’t necessarily about building bunkers, it was about building soul, heart, spirit or something like it. There are many sorts of preparedness.

The ‘What next’ talk helped, particularly when Paul Kingsnorth (the other founder) noted that the festival had kind of started out as a place to get writers together.

Once you start thinking of it as a writer’s workshop at the end of the universe, it kind of made sense.

But before that, it really clicked, as I got in touch with exactly the sort of hippy I am.

People call me a hippy all the time, and sometimes I get annoyed, but mostly because I don’t know what it means. I acknowledge that I don’t help myself by wearing skirts and long hair and liking flowers, but, well, it still seems like a derogatory term. Something ineffectual. I guess this could be historiographical. During one conversation, Vinay noted that the cultural revolution died because all the clever people died in the first years of battle, leaving nobody to lead that side in the war.

So; failed and idealistic revolutionary? Possibly not that far off. But there are other trappings.

This weekend, for me, was actually a deeply spiritual experience. Despite me not having any clear definition of what that is. The biggest learnings were not about people (though the campfire was one of the most supportive singsongs I’ve ever taken part in. I’ve never sung solo acappella in front of strangers before, and I felt happy to do it and to fail. Thanks to that fire. If you’re reading this, you know who you are.)

Really, the awesome ritualistic theatre of Liminal, was what bought my heart into action. A small prologue, a procession through a series of unneverving dreamlike vignettes, and a  final ritual, of noise and movement in the depths of a candlelit forest. Through that, I felt centred and connected to all of life, all of the world. Like had taken part in some kind of bonding ceremony. My centre suddenly felt further away from me than usual, but in the right way.

I celebrated by getting drunk, which was almost as stupid as some of the decisions on my cycle out from Petersfield to the campsite, which took five hours instead of one, and almost as fun. (Though it was the cycle that nearly killed me, if it hadn’t been for a spanner and a nice old lady called Anne, I’d probably be dead. Or at least very, very ill.)

The next day I was less engaged, but still picking up fragments, and maybe the odd braingrenade from Vinay. My mind was struggling to keep up with some of the learnings of the night before. Not least a weighty discussion in the almost sacredly intimate space of the hexayurt (which I stumbled drunkenly into at four in the morning).

I think spaces need to be small for real weight to be talked about. A conference or lecture is not a supportive or communal environment, it is a space for hierarchy and showing off. There were problems with some of the spaces, that bought out some odd things in people, and made me shut up and feel alienated. But when things worked, they worked.

And actually, shutting up and listening was what I needed. It wasn’t until everyone one faded back to their real lives and I was left in a quite countryside that I really appreciated that. And that I finally got to listen to what I really needed.

I made a new friend, who fed and nourished me in a number of ways, not least with actual physical real food. I need to get the micro infrastructure for cookery into my camping bike loadout pretty sharpish.

After absorbing some silence sunshine and beauty, we talked about sheep, unicorns and ancestors. Myths and futures and spirits.

The thing is, when you have the space to look at the noisiness of the quieter, less verbal world, you realise that these spirits, while metaphors, are utterly, utterly real.

Our myths and stories are wrapped up together, and they can still be shared around a campfire, and nothing will make you new friends like laughing and sharing them.

We are going to be ancestors. Even if we don’t have children, those around us will. We will tell them stories, and they will tell stories about us. Eventually, that is all we will be. Stories.

After my final commune with nature, the final fire of the weekend was shared with total but beautiful strangers. The chance to bounce around some chatter, to hear our thoughts and stories of the weekend shared and stretched and played with. Repeated and explained from different angles.

With the owls for company.

We were not the centre, we were just part of a stream through eternity. We looked backwards, and we looked forwards, and we saw everything stretching out beyond us.

I think we are tiny. I think we make tiny marks. As a civilisation, we have wreaked huge damage, but still, where it is, life persists. We will, eventually, wash away (barring the definitely real possibility of biotech, nanotech or nuclear catastrophe), and leave a world that will move on without us.

But civilisation is not actually us. Not the deep us, at our core.

Politically, we must make sure we demand the world the world deserves. We must learn how to change our civilisation so it does not destroy everything. This will probably not happen until it’s all gone horribly wrong. This is a tragedy for us.

The world will pick itself up and carry on without us.

We need to do something about this. This weekend was not about finding out what. It was about finding out why.

It was about seeing alternatives and feeling them.

It was restorative to something in my heart. Like a tree was growing there that hasn’t been watered in forever. Finally it is growing again, maybe even bearing fruit.

I still don’t know what to do about civilisation. But I do know I need to distance myself from it. My path seems clearer. Move, slowly and safely away from the horror of it all. Find somewhere I can live a simpler life.

The route will not be simple. I don’t have the wisdom and skills and power of my ancestors. I don’t know how to live off land, and I don’t have land to live off.

But. Well. I need to be out there.

Where the real world is. Living and bustling in it’s own way. I must visit it more regularly and learn how to work with it.

These are musts now, not just idle dreams.

I’m not going to stop talking about the problems. I’m going to continue to try and make the world change. But I am also going to make a tent on a darker mountain.

My spirit belongs with the others. In the darkness.

It’s not easy to see in the dark. This weekend, I practiced opening my eyes wider.

With time. I will work on my eyes.

And my heart.

And my soul.

So I can see deeper into the darkness, and maybe even live there.

This is a first response. It is tired and slightly crazy, for that is where I’m at right this moment.I’m going to use Unstruck this week to explore a few questions that came up over the weekend. This is technically breaking the rules, but that’s what they’re for, right?

Unstruck at 200 – With bits in

Illustration by Adam.

Today I posted my 200th post on the Unstruck blog. It’s not quite the 200 x 500=100,000 words that that should be, as there are five odd posts without any text at all (and the 500 is a limit, many are dead on, but some are under).

Anyway, for those who don’t know, unstruck is my newer (almost a year old) collaborative and restrictive project. It’s kept me writing all year, and with less self indulgent moping than usual, which is pretty cool. (Don’t worry mope fans, there is a bit of it).

Basically, each day, somebody asks a question, I answer in 500 words, and someone illustrates it in half an hour.

It’s simple, and it’s a way to get me writing, and other people arting, and hopefully even more people thinking.

I love it. Most of the time. It makes me feel like I’m part of a collective. It gives me an opportunity to feel like I had a part in something beautiful.

And occasionally, it means that I write things I like. More often than I’d like to think.

To celebrate, I posted on twitter a selection of my favourites. There’s no system here, just a random pick of things I remembered being good. I re-read them as I did it, and I surprise myself.

I’m reposting those tweets here (including some typoes), for the sake of posterity. It’s not really a best bits. Just a ‘bits that move me or something’.


Dip into the past here.

Poignant – G and the Velvet Underground

My Angel Rocks Back and Forth

My friend G has decided to say goodbye to Brighton by staring intently into my wall.
A cheery surprise at my door, it quickly emerges that he has drunk a few pints, won some games of pool and taken about half a gram of horse tranquilliser. As we discuss, and go through, the process of coffee making, he becomes incoherent. In the space of three sentences his eyes have glazed over and the words slowly slid apart.
In the time it took me to type those last two sentences he has fallen backwards. I know there is no need to check, he grunted recently his assent to the idea of sitting in the living room, and this tells me he is in the usual coma.
If he times it just right his coffee will be at a drinkable temperature by the time he’s conscious enough to drink it.
I don’t disapprove of this, but it’s an odd visit. This will be my last memory of him in Brighton, for now at least. He’s heading back to Bideford, the place he fled three or four years ago.
That was when I first met G.
I will go and check on him anyway, though I know he’s fine.
He’s fine.
As I was saying. Bideford got too much for G a few years back, mostly due to the emotional cliché of woman trouble. Now he returns there, as Brighton is too much for him. The emotional cliché of woman trouble, possibly exacerbated by the drug filled squat subculture.
He said he was fine. Or rather, he said yeah when I asked. As he stares at the ceiling of my tiny galley kitchen, I notice how brightly the light is sparkling in his eyes.
G has always had incredibly pretty eyes.
Elsewhere G is more haggard and scruffy and dirty and typical of a punk squatter K-head. Though from the right angle he has a majesty in his features, and as someone who knows him, I can’t deny just how beautiful he is.
While this all happens, I’m still involved in expanding my understanding of the Velvet Underground. Yet again, a classic band, that I’d nod and smile whenever someone asked me if I liked them, without ever having investigated beyond the cliched hits. I could probably even name a few albums at a push.
Now I find myself lost within the varied voices swirling around me. I’m bad at picking out individual threads of language from the hubbub, so the meaning of the poetry here is lost to me, but the interleaved vocals of this Murder Mystery is swimming around me. Flooding me with something between unease and involvement.
I feel close to G now, with my back to him as I type about him without his knowledge.
Am I ignoring his suffering?
I doubt he’s suffering, but ti’s disturbing.
Unease and involvement. I wonder if there is a word for it, the way you are drawn close to something that scares you.
No, It’s not the Uncanny, I don’t care what Freud and Nick Royle say.
I feel like I’ve broken the intimacy of this writing with that line. That self conscious attempt at intellectualism. I think I lost the purity of it all at least half a page ago.
G has woken, I think he’s using the toilet.
On the other hand, he may have just left.
For good.
For now.
We’ll see.
This has been a love song, in case you didn’t notice.
Thank you for your attention.

Metaspirational – The Princess Bride

Okay, so.

Seriously, if you want to be a writer, or even if you want to want to be a writer, you need to make sure you’ve read the Princess Bride. I’m a big William Goldman fan ever since a good friend lent me the book ‘Which Lie did I tell?’ about his adventures as a screenwriter. On the back of that I fell in love with most everything I’ve seen of his. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid remains one of my all time favourite films.

But the Princess Bride, this really is what writing is all about. It’s been nonstop inspiration to me during this months nano, though I’m keeping it in the toilet so I can only read it either on the loo or whilst bathing. That way it doesn’t interrupt too much.

I know, I know, too much information…I’m that way inclined tonight it seems.

Anyway, basically, the whole metanarrative structure just can’t help but make you think about the way the book is written. (For those who don’t know, the story behind the books creation is that it’s actually a abridgement of a historical tale by a Florinese writer called Simon Morgenstern, for given values of the word ‘actually’. Goldman’s father told him the story as a child, skipping all the boring bits, and then, once grown up, he took it as a labour of love to find a copy and abridge it, including inserts on why he cut certain bits, and retelling elements of his own father’s telling of the story).

Everything draws you into to thinking about the writer’s thought process, and, to the wary reader, points out the subtle artifice at play throughout. But it does this without distracting from it.  In fact, throughout, the whole thing is littered with little rhythm and rhyme games, little teases and distractions. The rhythm of it is nearly always perfect, which makes it a dream to read out loud. I can’t wait to read it to my kids once they exist. And the ‘truth’ behind the book’s creation emphasises this moreso. By jumping us in and out of the narrative, our eyes our drawn in certain ways. Our attention is gained, and then sucked in, right in, until you’re in so deep that you’re crying or laughing almost steadily throughout. I’m on my third re-reading, and it’s still a thrill (not to mention the fact that I’ve seen the film about eight or nine times, I know the plot inside out). And it’s not even just that fondness of familiarity. It’s noticing more and more the games being played by the text.

I don’t want to start plucking examples out of it, because they work best within the context, and that context is so carefully constructed.

I dream of one day writing something as good as this, it demonstrates a mastery of storytelling on so many levels.

And everytime i read I learn lessons. It is a perfect guide to teaching how to make stories, because it is simultaneously a story about stories, and a story about tellings of stories.

There’s a lot of layers to that onion there. Turtles all the way down.

But seriously, read it, and you’ll want to write a book. In the same way that someone (Eno?) claimed that everyone who bought the original vinyl of the first Velvet Underground album started a band, or whatever rock apocrypha you want to talk about.


It’s inspirational, in so many ways. It’s also about real humans and real emotions, despite it’s fantastical fairy tale world.

And it’s all incredibly nano. The asides, the jump cuts, the self awareness. It’s how I most enjoy writing, and I just wish I could pull it off nearly as well as Goldman.


Whenever people ask me about my favourite book, I hope I remember to include Princess Bride, because it really is, for a whole bundle of reasons.

If you haven’t read it. Go read it. If you live in Brighton, I’ll lend you a copy as soon as I’ve finished reading it again. I’m almost there. Probably just one more bath or so.

Radio Free Ambibath

I’ve just had a rather strange and awakening experience.

I’m currently reading The Divine Invasion, more of my ongoing obsession with Dick you see.

Anyway, I’m astonished by how much of a rollercoaster ride it’s been already. Normally when I read something by Dick I start of fascinated, and become increasingly so until I reach a point of complete bafflement that barely eases up.

Well…I’m starting to get used to it, the recurring motifs are easy enough to pick out, and I have read a lot now (coming soon is my dissertation essay on Dick and the Uncanny by the way…but first I need to proof it…which I probably should have done before I handed it in to be graded…but what the heck).

But this is the second in the mental breakdown/divine revelation trilogy, and it’s bat fucking insane.

I mean…it’s incredible. I feel like I need to read the Torah just to have a clue what’s going on.

But it’s deeper than just religion. There’s something grand here about a basic understanding of the universe. It really is a bit like taking your feet off the ground and realising that the ground isn’t there any more.

It is surprisingly coherent if you pay attention and remember to step back…but there’s a strange rhythm to the madness, and occasionally it’s terrifying.

My own experiences of mental breakdown start to flit into my mind as I read.

Brilliant and terrifying. Wonderful.

Anyway, so I’m stepping into the bath, tuning in my clockwork radio. I couldn’t find the French Jazz I normally listen to, and so fiddle around until I think I can hear something interesting.

I hear something interesting, but with the water running I can’t tell if it’s static or not. There’s some kind of irregular pulsing noise, a cat screaming and all manner of fuzz and lack of definition. I finally tune it in properly and get rid of the fuzz, only to find that the cat and the pulse are really there. The cat fades after a while and I realise that I’m sinking into the water to the sound of echoing abstract noise. Little bursts of strange eerie sound bubble around me. (Also I’m farting a bit…but you don’t need to know that).

Anyway, it slowly becomes clear that I’m listening to a new local community radio station, which is doing a programme full of ambient soundscapes and ‘sonic sculptures’. There was some great stuff there…including a really bizarre vocal harmony loop that was almost terrifying in its beauty. Then as it builds you start to get sound processing on the top end…little mechanical bubbles in the tone of her voice (mechanical bubbles…how in the hell does that work?). Really really amazing. (Brightoners check out Radio Reverb, apparently it starts broadcasting live tomorrow, though they’ve got recorded preview stuff playing already).

So I’m here, listening to frighteningly bizarre music and reading horrifically wonderful prose, realising that I’m a massive pretentious cock.

Either that or I just really love strange experiences. That noise was amazing, really makes you re-evaluate the way you hear. The book  to is so different to anything else. There’s a narrative and people and happenings, but there’s another level of wonder. A fear that you might learn something you can’t unlearn.

Okay…So I definitely am pretentious…but it doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful that this kind of stuff is going on. It’s great to stumble on that kind of weird and wonderful thing…especially when you’re in the right state to absorb it.

Live for the Weird Experience.

Things Falling Together – Creativity as Reverse Entropy

So, this is pretty much a part two of yesterday’s post. So you might want to read that first if you haven’t already.  Today is going to be mostly inspired by Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, Whitishrabbit‘s comments yesterday. Also loads of Modernism/Post-Modernism lectures at Uni. And probably some other stuff.

You can basically translate that whole first paragraph as meaning that I’m going to be a bit pretentious…but then..if you’ve been here before then you know that already.

So let’s get going.

Basically, yesterday we discussed the problems with the fact that possibilities become defined as we read or write. The options close down and there become less available routes available to us. Our myriad hopes and dreams are crushed by the one dominant course of action that plots itself.

The thing is that this ain’t all that bad.

The thing about writing, reading (and life) is that it’s fun. There’s always more possibilities than you think and there’s always more things to do.

You start off with an blank page, and in your mind that represents a chaotic and dramatic struggle of a million and twenty ideas, characters, events, plots, concepts..whatever. This huge disorganised mass of options that could go down. Twenty six letters, then another 26 to choose from after that. The options increase exponentially. Disorganisation rules. All the words in all the languages in worlds are available for that opening. Then anything you can fit after that.

I mean…just how many sentences are there to use?


That blank page could become anything. It could be a magic carpet to take you to far off Arabian bazaars, it could be a Longboat ready to take you to watch the spectacle of Fimbulwinter, it could be a patch of Earth for you to grow beautiful flowers in.

And that’s assuming you lack imagination and use the old tropes that have already been worn out; and even if you do that it could still be something amazing, because your mind remains different to everyone elses.

There’s lots of options…it’s chaos…that’s what I’m saying.

But then you make that first mark on the page.

That first miraculous mark, followed by the next, and the next.

So much pouring out, before you know it, the chaotic whiteness of possibility has been filled with the black marks of order.

Where there was nothing, now there is something. A story. A tale is being woven. An image is captured.

Creation…right there…on that little bit of paper. (Go and watch Mirrormask, Stephen Fry’s Librarian relates a similar creation myth…its also a good film).

And order is created.

That’s what’s wonderful, its not the possibilities lost, its the one that gets found. Defined, properly explored. It stops being a nebulous haze of thought, and becomes a solid, defined and reified piece of something. You can follow the thread now, see where it leads.

Out of the labyrinth.

You reverse entropy.

The structure becomes more organised.

Okay, so you don’t actually break any laws of Thermodynamics…that would be silly.

But you create something out of chaos.

It’s wonderful.

Pynchon carves these ridiculously lost and confused passages. Charts the passages of things falling apart. And leaves you hanging, dangling, waiting for a conclusion that will never come. He plays the game both ways. Leads you down a long dark tunnel of strangeness, raises mysteries and loses you in them. He takes you forward, ever forward, and then leaves you realising you’re on the wrong of the cliff edge.

You’re back in the chaos. You’ve no idea what happens next.

It’s a great feeling. But you’ve been bought there by that tunnel. Choices have to be made to lead you to that point. The route has taken you so far..and your imagination takes over.

Things fall apart all the time.

Try putting something together.

Try and lead people along with you, show them a path (remember it will be different for them….no matter how well you make your path it still looks different through the eyes of another) and lead them somewhere exciting.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the blind leading the blind. Just because you don’t know where you’re going doesn’t mean you won’t end up somewhere.

Doesn’t even matter if it’s nowhere…as long as the journey is fun.

Let things fall together.

It’s a good ride.