n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

stepping the mast

stolen image: boat-likeNow, were I to have a camera, the deal would certainly be done.

Two items of interest would be depicted, both in progress, both colorful, full of perspectives, and of a certain amount of interest.

Okay, to begin with, I've been moving into my studio. It's shaping up, in fact. I now have two smoke alarms, a fire extinguisher and a plan to drill through one of the open floor-struts, create a hook, and attach a rope with knots to help me get down the fourteen feet to the street (through the window, which can be overcome by such objects as the fire extinguisher, a chair, or the heel of my foot) in case of fire. That done, and I'm left to arrange the finer aspects, such as desks and benches, and shelving structures, although foremost in consideration at this point is the track-lighting, which really must be done soon as I only have two regular lamps, one highly immobile, so as to illuminate all pathways.

Within the studio, I have to say I still feel out of sorts. A bit day-dreamy, like it couldn't be possible that all that space is simply for me to get to My Work, i.e. to create something. I find that I'm right now in the process of negotiating the difference between strict achievement - X,Y and Z by Monday - and actuality, which is that I've lapsed in a number of areas.

To be highly repetitive, I still don't fully know my motivation at this point (although I dreamt last night that I went on a camping trip with my family and a number of friends, the friends I started to realize belatedly I hadn't officially [technically] invited, and they probably weren't actually psychic and coming on their own, thus leaving me with my own reasons for making my way to and down the trail, an advent which never happened in the dream as I continued to mentally negotiate the probabilities of their near arrivals-without-invitations and how surely they'd all want to see the beauty of the steep trail). But I do know that I need to be doing something other than moving myself through the process of being alive, having a home, a dog, having a job to do, having to look for a better job to do, having to make better home, having to adore my dog efficiently, my job efficiently, Bville efficiently and unclearly, etc. But I'm finding that very little of that is adequate for the needs of transitioning, still still still, from the kind of fervent adoration that class exercises, or nonsense, or group exercises, or any of that, has previously instilled in me with regards to producing stories, books, twiddles and chapters.

Originally, the plan was to only write for April and May, and then in June, to let myself include drawing/photographs/books/etch-sketches with the writing. I realized that for a number of months I've been developing my story (the story I've been working on) in my head, in intricate, beautiful, knowing detail, but neglecting to write any of that down. Perhaps, I thought, this is because I haven't a space specifically attuned to writing...

But recently I realized that this is simply because I have discarded language because (maybe?) I feel I have nothing to communicate. Or don't believe in communicating. Or don't like communication. That is, the problem has never been the story... the story is there, developing. I ask myself daily: "What happened there?" and by this I mean, specifically there, within the context of the story. This is my way of acknowledging that I always know the psychological boundaries of a story (the emotions at play, the Uber-narrative), but don't always ask myself to relate this knowledge through at least a minor form of action. At times, this is simply a stylistic quirk; at other times, more of a leg caught under the bucket of a tractor wherein the leg belongs to the supposed driver of the tractor whose bucket is down, grinding downward, tilting slightly downward, pinning the driver, whose hand is reached out in knowledge of the easy lever-twitch that would release her. To use a metaphor.

So, daily I ask: What happened? And there is now an answer, but the second part of the story of writing is that no matter how brilliant the answer, the writing of it will always begin with a chore, and end with a chore as well, with the in-between being all the dust and matter focused on and shuttled hither to yonder in the brainpan. The process sucks. It really sucks. And what sucks more than it sucking is the knowledge that when I'm disciplined and scheduled and a regular task-master, that when I'm cut off from the rest of the world, uncaring about so many things I actually care about, when I keep working, and then continue in that vein, writing becomes a simple grace. The actual practice becomes a dream, and everything, for that twenty seconds, is easy and brilliant. But for the years before that, and those hours after the minutes just afterwards, the world is both gruesome and meaningless.

Yeah, so, trying to get over this and suck it up and in, and perhaps find some iota of competition or vendetta or love for the human race to keep me going... I very quickly realized that simply sitting myself down in front of the computer will not do the trick. So, I am releasing myself to the projects again, with a sigh and a finger shake. Ah, the eternal endless projects. Always so adorable without an end in sight.

Oh, but it must be there!

Yeah and so, my studio opening will be on First Friday in July. I will be having wine and cheese, and striving to contact the person(s) in charge of First Fridays in Bville in order to get myself on the list, although before that, I will be endeavoring to contact the other "studio people" in the building (at least one of whom I know is into the arts) and attain their company in (re-)arranging the building, getting things set up for passersby, and in general, adopting an Attitude.

To get to the technicals, I've decided to name that open window and open fire-planking of floor, low-ceiling, green walls, blue floor, Re-Story furniture, paper bundles, etc: I decided to name the studio after the whimsical name I originally used as the press name for my first letterpress 'book,' which was a cloth thingy held together by sail eyelet and titled "How to be a Pirate." Although I always considered the book entirely cheesy, it was the only thing that sold when I had that unfortunate stint at the Christmas sale (within which a student of mine who had just sold two paintings for over $5,000 felt sorry for me and bought one of my non-selling $3 chapbooks). Anyhow, I like the press name enough, and I like to try to swashbuckle, because I don't exactly know what it would look like. And so.

The studio's just up from a nice, fine brewery in Bville, right off a main drag, in a building shared primarily with a magnificently non-nonprofit group that works with kids in various arts, particularly drama, to the very very loud detriment of the building (yesterday I invested in "noise-reduction" headphones). It seems a great place though, and whenever I'm there, I see people walking up and down the street, which really feels good... to watch them all moving.

The space is quite enormous as well, and the goal for First Fridays is 1) to create an artificial deadline for myself each month, 2) to show my stuff and get people to visit, but 2) to show other people's stuff, namely to create an okay enough place for my friends to exhibit in, to send me "stuff," to trust in me, and to make it a temporary non-Bville-only art-zone. It's really large, this space, so it's do-able. Hint, wink.

Surely getting visitors/guests will be feasible for the first First, but after that? I guess, one step after another. But it's important to me that this place is not just about me, and not just about Washington, and not just about one way of seeing. I'd like eventually to do some collaborative stuff again, which I miss, I must say. But maybe it'll all just be a one-person folkie-art social belch? If that's so, I'll do my best, but, for friends reading this (all two of ya'll at this point... I know I've let my readers down), I'm testing out the theme for the first First as: "Stepping the Mast." As in, the foreplay for wind... and all that. I think it could possibly be too silly (or maybe it just sounds naughty?), but I like the idea of setting up a floating location to take off...

To shift mid-step (ha), I will also say that my vegetable garden is the most beautiful place ever. Completely without vegetables or plantings at this point, it is a combination of clay, loam, conditioner, and cedar chips. I have a hollowed tree-slice in the middle for sunflowers and nasturtiums, and precisely five small beds and three large beds. Within the week, the "fence" is going up to deter Heraldino from making the dirt his party-pad, the mushroom compost will be added, and as for planting: broccoli (started in the greenhouse and growing gonzo) and carrots (who knows what will happen with carrots, really). Next week will be the first round of peas & beans. I also soon hope to get the small plastic-bed going for the basil and peppers, etc, but we'll see about that. All I know is that it is really going to be beautiful. Squashes and pumpkins and peas galore.

Oh, and I decided I'm buying a camera soon. I thought I'd buy a cheap camera in penance, but then decided that it's best to be practical and follow my dreams to a T instead of approximating.

Teaching is going well. My favorite mispellering of the week is "The Great Gaspy" and pretty much all of the students seem fine; maybe more lazy than ever before, but fine. Cheers and Herald licks your face.
This is my favorite blog post by/so far. That you've done.

Congrats on the swashbuckling space.
I like the "floating location" idea. You might just want to call it "foreplay for the wind.;[) Either way, I like it.

When do I get to come see what you've done so far?
mwwwwwwwaaaah! (that was an air kiss for the two of you)

I'm off to dig in the dirt!
I used to do a lot of academic writing and blogging. People would tell me I was a good writer. But it seemed so empty to me. I spent all my time trying to paraphrase someone else's idea, avoid plagiarism and seek the elusive original idea. Then one day I started writing fiction, and everything changed. I don't have to have "something to write about." I make it up, and there it is. I can't tell you how good it feels to be free to just invent. (Thanks for linking to me!)
Hi JJ, No problem with the linking - I like your blog(s).

I managed to side-step the issue of academic writing by going to an art institute for my second grad degree; they really couldn't have cared less whether I even knew theory or had studied anything (although I did/had), much less write "papers."

And fiction has always been pretty closely allied with nonfiction for me. It seems like you get to make both up, if you ask me. :)

I'll keep paying attention to your blog, btw, and am interested to see how your novel develops - it seems you have some exciting strategies for writing it. I'm thinking about starting a writing group (although I know there are already several) in Bville that is not a "workshop mode" group, but a "writing exercise/strategy mode" group - halfway for fun, halfway to try new techniques. A couple of years back, I got interested in Oulipo - a group that uses artificial systems to help generate writing - and want to expand on that as well as the regular-like writing exercises. Just a thought...
There's a group here in Monroe, but they only meet once a month and I've never been. I'm not sure really what I'm doing right now. I love my story, but it's odd thinking I can't really go back and do edits, as you would normally when writing something this long. I never really set out to do this, but I am enjoying it. I did start following other writers on Twitter to see what they're doing. They all seem so miserable, trying to meet daily word counts and such. I don't want to live like that!
Ah yes, the daily word count. Not sure what I think of those. Maybe at some point... but as with everything in writing, I'd have to make it into a game or else I'd never do it. heh.

There are bunches of writing groups around here, each with their own flavor - not sure I've heard of one that simply wants to generate & gossip & feel solidarity without editing or pontificating though... well, one poetry one, but I haven't been invited (which I tell myself is because I'm not a poet).
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