Possessed

Henry Miller wrote: “A writer shouldn’t think much.”

And I don’t when I sit down to write. The only thing I like to keep in mind is that I’m getting as close as I can come to Lewis Carroll writing sheer nonsense. But I’m never mindful of this — it just wanders like a mendicant throughout my body. And I never, anyway, reach that absurd beauty. But how I strive for it!

You could say I write as if I’m taking dictation. I never seem to know just exactly what is going to happen. Which is not to say that I don’t know what I want to write about, because I do. I’m just not all that hypnotized by how to say it. And a lot of the time it happens like this. Words spilling out and I am just a medium. Which is not to say I’m a mannequin sitting in his chair, empty but for the grace of words. No. I’m alive, present, actively engaged in the words that are coming and turning them at the last second, you could say, into the words I want. I am the hook that catches the fish, and the fish is scales and fins and blood and gills and yet at the time of its landing, I have given it a name.

When I am done, I am amazed at what I’ve written. Not in the sense of, wow, look at what I can do, but more along the lines of: I never knew I had that in me. It’s more a humbling feeling than an arrogant one, which would feel wrong, any way. There is no arrogance when writing, it’s always a surprise one word at a time. Arrogance as a writer completely spoils the work, much like too much spice destroys taste.

I suppose I approach writing the same way I approach reading: I’m always looking for that writer to lift me out of myself, free me from taboos, pluck me free of the mundane and drop me, sometimes kicking and flailing, into the unknown, which is always the most unprofitable side of creation, but always the richest.

“Taboos after all are only hangovers, the product of diseased minds, you might say, of fearsome people who hadn’t the courage to live and who under the guise of morality and religion have imposed these things upon us.” Henry Miller

“The artist is lagging behind, his imagination is not keeping pace with the men of science.” Henry Miller

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