Writing: An animal obsessively eats itself
Posted May 05, 2013
I doubt that writers are people “who need to write,” as some people say. That claim seems a bit limited and dramatic.
But writing does seem to exercise of a part of the brain that, in some people, wants a lot of exercise and can’t easily get that exercise another way.
I write because in my writing I can play with abstract concepts in a repetitive, sometimes-obsessive fashion that I couldn’t do in conversation; my play is intense and full of self-reference.
My writing has been one of my longest loving relationships. I remember writing with my first solo glass of wine in my pre-teens, tapping wildly on an electric typewriter in my brother’s room; I remember writing as identity-formation in high school, in my jeans with song lyrics safety-pinned to my inner thigh; I remember writing as it became my career goal in college.
I have been working on the same novel for seven years—a story about a 13-year-old girl name Clara who is kidnapped to the underworld and given simple instructions for her release: “Create a work of art. No one will judge it—you just make it, and you’re free.” But her anxiety about producing something memorable paralyzes her.
I have probably thrown out 900,000 words of this book. No: more. It’s almost embarrassing to say how much more, because I’ve seen some authors proudly proclaim that “writing is rewriting; I only keep 1 out of 4 pages” (that by Elmore Leonard, in this clip here), but I am an animal that eats herself more aggressively; I have kept no more than 1 in 4,000 pages. I write for three 50-minute intervals per day. For the rest of my day, I have a psychotherapy practice in which I specialize in work with artists.
Lately, I’ve been making short videos of my novel to break up the silence and stress of my written words. I’ve decided to post a few of them here. This video, above--and what the hell in case you're missing it, again here below--is a video in which I try to sing a love story about my writing process.