Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ask A Question, Get An Answer #1: "How Do You Have So Many Words?"

Okay. This isn't some program I conceived of and then put into practice, per se. It's more something I figured out after-the-fact, sussing out my own operating methods, my habitual and instinctive modes. But wow - either way, it totally works.

1. I think about what I mean all the time, because it's kind of cool sometimes to do (plus it puts me to sleep like a baby at night). I notice some weird edge of opinion sticking out: it doesn't fit? Or does it? SMASH! Poke. Wiggle, pry loose? Pull out, examine, turn to the light, rotate. Slide back in, at a new or perhaps reconfigured angle! Or even: (gasp) discard. People: be absolutely ruthless with your opinions. You owe them no loyalty. Their job is to serve you, in your effort to make the world work within your head.

2. I mean the CRAP out of what I mean. I mean with great force and eager earnestness, I mean with great fluidity where reality suddenly presents a new course, through which what I mean must flow. For areas where I have no particular ideas in mind - they are usually very interesting, and I am all over them with curiosity and interest! For many things I will hold several ideas in my head and not yet have a means to decide between the two or three. This is called "skepticism." A useful tool: but don't let it rule you.

3. I read a shitload of good writing, which puts a shitload of fuck-all top notch words and a whole range of different ways of expressing them at my fingertips. A lot of the time, if you were say psychopathically attuned to what I'm a-doin'...I have occasionally had people call me on it, on whether I've just been reading Tolkien or Poe. People: there is only one piece of meaningful advice for anyone who wants to learn to write in English: read masterfully-written English. Always keep a very good dictionary hard by as you read. Always look up any word you do not totally get. Worried that will break your flow? Look the word up. Learn it. Then skip two pages pack and proceed forward from there. Don't be such a wuss! A good book's hold on you is not so fragile as all of that. But the main thing you are reading for is not to catch the words, but the music. Take it in, assimilate it. The more you steep in it, the more will seep into you.

For God's sake, though, tone it down a little on the way out! Assimilate, don't regurgitate. Use the best of available palettes and styles to hone your own voice. Don't be some stupid-prose-trick artist doing impressions, or boring everyone to shocked silence with grandstanding stunts. Leave that to me. Leave that shit to the stereotypical "artist" doing it "for himself or herself" i.e. a self-involved jerkbag who could care less about how he comes off to the reader. Don't aspire to that! Be more than that, please.

And while we're talking about what not to aspire to: allow me to lay it out. Don't be a novelist. Don't be a humorist. Don't be a stylist. Don't be an artist.

Don't even be an author. Be something better than these. Be a writer.

There is no higher calling for a creator than that. But then, I'm biased. I'm an oil painter.

So anyway, that''s it! Between #1, #2 and #3, I have a ready supply of sentiments I feel passionately about, and a wide array of words in which to give them form. Anybody can do it! It's not necessary that they come off like some kind of ASS HOLE. That's just my style - but others will benefit by couching their words in their own. Still. However you execute, this same basic program will work a trick for you too!

Think about what you mean. Mean it as hard as you can.

Those two will give you things to say.

And read great writing. As much as you can. Steep in it.

That will give you good ways to say whatever you have.


dogimo said...

Care to Ask a Question, Get an Answer?

Here's a good place to put your question:


dogimo said...

Haha, this whole thing - as if the original questioner thought it was a GOOD THING to have so many words! Yeah right.