Oct 30, 2013

The Living Text pt 1.

What would you say makes the writer different from other people?
Well, one has the urge, first of all, to order the facts one observes and to give meaning to life; and along with that goes the love of words for their own sake and a desire to manipulate them. It’s not a matter of intelligence; some very intelligent and original people don’t have the love of words or the knack to use them effectively. On the verbal level they express themselves very badly.

I've always loved hand-writing. Completely beautiful. The preservation of thought. The symbol scratched into existence, an idea wholly represented to the world. I once felt the written word, carefully chosen, was our best means of communication.

Spoken language is easy and quick, needing little effort, and often produced carelessly; however, a handwritten expression carries more thought. Artful at every level. The more meticulously attended, the greater density of information. Giving life. Words become action, sentences become experience, and pages become memories.

I love that.

The same person writing in haste, or anger, or love, can write the same line several different ways. Everything about the way we write. From the words we choose, to the medium- letter, note, pen, or ink- can give deeper information to our meaning. *2

I used to think the job of a writer was to be as clear as possible. Consciously controlling every detail.

My quest for perfect writing was a great ambition. But the hunt was all wrong. Impossible. Especially for lyrics. The mind is too tricky, even for written words. They will fail, be misunderstood. Translations muddied. Intentions subverted. And I have found more often, especially in songwriting, preciseness is less important than the feeling behind the words.
Some audiences care more for the sound of a word than its meaning. They look for NEW with a heavy thirst for style, not clarity. Especially in rock. I try to fight this... I prefer clarity. Many songs do not make any sense when read out loud, but they can still convey a semblance of meaning in the mood of the music (i.e. glam rock, grunge). 

Fads will always be coming in and out and I won't advocate trend following. But learning from the purposeful invention of these new ideas. We can learn a lot from unrelated genres- I'll get back to this later.  Directness is too boring, but know that a good story will never lose its value no matter what style it is wrapped in.

Maybe that's why I'm attracted to handwriting. The human element, the penmanship is itself a beautiful natural intensifying effect. Style, a facet of overall technique, can give an edge in the short run but the advantage fades quickly without substance to back it.
                                                   Nothing ages as well as substance.

But like I said, substance isn't the lone ingredient. Every writer has a complete love of words. Not just the ideas they give the mind but the full audio/visual spectrum of a well arranged piece. The sounds and rhythms of words entrance our spirit. As writers we need to know the impact style has on the audience's understanding and appreciation of a text. But we should apply style, without letting the technique-love get in the way of story. The effects should enhance the message, not blur it.

This is like having too many effect pedals on an instrument. Our instrument's sound should fill the melody, not replace it. If done right, our writing style will resonate with purpose of message. Everything balanced. Using and not being used. Controlling and not being controlled.

It would be no good to read an instruction manual for a blender written with the mad freedom of Burroughs, though it would be a fun read, nothing would ever get blended. Just like it would be a bore to read a novel with the straight-clear formalism of an instruction booklet. There is art in purpose. 

I love to write lyrics by hand. On the move. Whenever an idea hits me. I like to look back and see when I was writing furiously, or when I was taking my time. I like to be able to see where I paused to think of the next word, and when I was thinking so fast the words attached together in a long chain. But my handwritten notes have no purpose for anyone else. I always retype for others to read my ideas. That doesn't mean I should write on a computer to begin with, just that writing is not a one step procedure.

Writing, though it seems stationed, is a living art. Free of change. Free from the limitations of its own form. Read a passage out loud vs. quietly and see how much the same words can change. Write a line by hand, and then type it and see how the look changes the feel. There are limitless potentials to writing and its impact....


On a ledge
her bronzed hand silks the banister
like her descent against the fullest night
could raise the sun right there. A push, a tilt.

        I believe I had a premonition
            and talking. decided.
            taking her by candle-lit smoke, and tea.
            My finger ripped against white stones
            rocking the gums. Then I,
            before I was through with my glass,
            spit on the table stone white words.
            Growing the timpanic change
            rolling in the yaw of my stomach
            I watched her come in.
Her heel clapped the tile. Poised beautifully.
Momentum arrested. I swear she was
the fiery sword itself, cutting away hands.
'Nothing is still,' she said
'but you will remember me like that.'
And never did her lips move
I swear

*1: Quote Source: Aldous Huxley, The Art of Fiction No. 24 By Raymond Fraser, George Wickes

*2:  Image Source: http://collecting.wdfiles.com/local--files/image:handwritten-john-keats-poem/keats.jpg