Clive Matson writes from an itch in his body


August 1st, 2010 | Posted by clive in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

“It’s like a big gun and I pull the trigger. A shotgun!”

The writer was doing the first draft of a pitch of her novel to agents. “A splattershot! All this stuff comes out.”

What a nursery school image, with mud, crayolas, spit, play dough, paint splattering all over. Nothing like the organized play of Jackson Pollock, but truly chaotic. Of course she’s talking about words.

What’s noteworthy here is that she allows this to happen. It’s not surprising that such energy is bubbling up, ready to come out. But think of the discipline, yes, discipline it takes to do this. You have to find the impulse, honor it, and let the first gush out. Then, and here’s where the discipline comes in, not to take the negative voices very seriously. “Oh that is so sloppy! So inaccurate. So off” and go back toward the next impulse, and let it splatter onto the page. Do this over and over.

Chalcedony writes this way, and I must let her. And not worry that what she writes is cliche. I worked on the description of Chalcedony’s Second Ten Songs this week, and it came as pages of impulse and near misses, till I got it right.

The writer continued. “Then I sort through all that stuff, and find the good lines.” That’s when the workshop helped, reading the memorable lines back to her. Belief, trust in the impulse, in the native or authentic impulse is behind this.

The writer even took her own impulse to heart, and relished it. We went into the afternoon session with some joy.

“I’m going to splattershot some more.” She said my wish. Now that word is a verb.

D.H. Lawrence’s version, “It’s not I, It’s not I, It’s the wind blowing through me.”

(With help from Kate Britton and Queenelle Minet.)