Sometimes I make music. I recently finished up a kind of cycle, series, phase string of albums. You can listen to them or download them here:
i wrote this right before i got off my ass and finished writing flotation device 12. i guess it helped motivate.
I need to demystify my writing process. I used to treat it like this divine sort of act. Invoking the writing spirits the mystic rulers of word rhythm the secret gods of sentence structure. I would reverentially play amazing music – depending on the phase of my life I was in. Different types of music were more spiritual at different times. For a while it was punk rock and for a while it was electronic and for a while it was experimental and for a while now it has been jazz. Punk generally meant dead kennedys. Electronic generally meant aphex twin. Experimental meant sonic youth and jazz meant fucking jazz. Of course I still listen to all of these things – especially jazz and in particular free jazz.
But I need to take my process off of the pedestal I put it on when I was 20. When I was writing my stories for fiction writing at Columbia. When I was writing late into the night into the early morning listening to amazing music in the glow of my little lamp. Warm and magic. That was when it was easy and words flowed and text fell out onto the paper of notebooks I didn’t have to much think about it.
That’s when I turned my writing into this lofty exercise this magical event that I could only perform under certain and ideal conditions. It worked for a while but then life happens and living situations change and you grow up a bit. But my thoughts about my writing stayed the same. I waited for mood to hit me for certain times of day for certain lighting for certain social arrangements for certain everything. And I stopped writing. It was too much. The circumstances were never right. I rarely wrote for three years – a long time when you consider yrself a writer. Painful and depressing and always in the back of yr head. In the back of my head.
I had grown and life had changed but my conception of writing and my process hadn’t. It was still back there where I left it. It was still in my room in my apartment at 2216 w Wilson. It was still there with me at 20 listening to xx play video games and cats meowing and xx slurring and xx fucking and amazing music in a warm glow at my desk at 2 in the morning feeling alive and magical. Magic. Magic. Spirit. Spirit. Invoke. Invoke. And the pedestal kept growing year after year. It got taller and taller rose higher and higher in the sky and it disappeared in the clouds and I thought that only on certain occasions at certain times of day in the right light with the right music could I touch it again, that magic glow on the pedestal in the clouds. And then I felt like I couldn’t do it at all.
How powerful the mind is. How amazing it is. How wonderful it is at convincing us that things are impossible and that an easier way should be sought after and found. What a son of a bitch the mind is. Telling us it’s easier to not do anything rather than work at something we enjoy so much. What a motherfucker.
I lived with my process existing on that fucking pedestal for 8 years the first half of which worked great, the last 4 didn’t work at all. And it’s only been in the past few months that I even saw the fucking pedestal at all. I kept blaming circumstances and far from ideal or sometimes just slightly unideal conditions.
But writing is writing and it’s not a spiritual act or magical. It just is what it is. Sometimes it comes easily sometimes it’s hard as shit but I have to just do it. I’m not a great writer. I’ll never be remembered as being amazing. Fuck, I’ll never be remembered. Everyone I read humbles me. Their words and grammar and sentence construction and narrative structure. They are amazing and I’m okay. I’m alright. And that’s fine. I’ll keep writing what I write, documenting what I can how I can. But my shit doesn’t have to be magical and it doesn’t come from some fucking magical place that I invented when I was young. It just comes from me and my voice and my brain. It is what it is. And I can fucking do that whenever or wherever I want. If it’s something I need to work on fine. If it’s difficult I just need to do it. I need to work through the difficult times. It’s a discipline. It’s work and I should treat it as such. It’s a mundane action and I just need to keep practicing.
Cloudy out now. It was sunny. A few fluffy spring Chicago clouds warm sun filling the porch sitting on the stoop wearing sandals feeling good in the early evening sun setting sun. Rain clouds now wind in trees people heading home hurrying before the water breaks. Cars headlights squealing brakes as they hit the speed bump in front of my apartment their sensitive metal underparts scraping along the top of the hump as they inevitably bottom out. A skater with a backpack slowly cruising by with his skateboard overstuffed huge backpack strapped to his back. Street lights on.
Mexico. That’s a big one. But it lacks emotional depth. It’s not like Costa Rica at all. Selected high lights only please review tape. Highlight reel. Playing shows with the rories. Shit job extravaganza paper source. Unemployment. Depression. Therapy. Not getting a job at borders. Library school? Current events. All the new people I know. How underwhelming and alone it was to come back to Chicago. How much I love Chicago. Interview people? Put jrnlsm to use? About what? Research? Exciting possibilities. Jazz zines? How sexy is yrs? Does it get anybetter than don cherry? No. it doesn’t.
All these possibilities. Of course none of them call me. Maybe I’ll just go with the unstated and most seductive one. Just write for a while. Seemingly unrelated bits and pieces and construct them later into something greater. Just write and through structure create the new – create meaning bring a sleight order to the chaos. Not chaos but random. Find the thematic link later. Be jazz.
But not like Kerouac mythology. Be free now. Be free for now and reign it in – form formless later.
Jazz editing to follow jazz writing.
Free jazz is energy. Falling in love every time a new record comes on. Falling in love with every song. Energy. Energy. Action. Change politics freedom protest liberation. It’s all there w/in the energy w/in the skronk the smooth the beat the rhythm the bass the piano.
Collections of invocations.
Am I allowed to do that
Something so raw and dumb
Just me talking w/out reason
w/out a point
I suppose it’s the attempt. This discipline thing. To just write and write everyday regardless of whether or not it’s good or usable. Just write. Keep in the habit. Flex that muscle. Keep that shit toned.
So here I am writing just to write to make myself write. Sun ra on the stereo before that, art ensemble. I love this shit so much. Jazz my new rock. Something new to obsess about. Nerd.