"It Writes Me"
A brief writing note. I had mentioned in a recent posting that I don't write--writing writes me. Kind of a cryptic shamanic thing to proclaim. But for my many writers and students who check in on the blog, I thought I could say a bit more about this process.

Can you learn to write from Cheap Trick? Years ago, the song "Surrender" fascinated me. Not just because it was a crankin' rock song, nor because Bun E. Carlos was the coolest drummer in the world. I didn't know it yet, but "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, they just seem a little weird. Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away...." was a key to wisdom! Yeah, man; no wonder Cheap Trick played at Budokan: they were masters of enlightenment.

Surrender. But don't give yourself away.

Later, when I really discovered haiku poets after years of reading haiku and liking it--I was in my darkest hours in that Arizona desert, starving and beset upon by demons and unclean spirits (you thinkI'm kidding) and trying to survive the blast-furnace of Teresita and medicine and curanderas and despair--I of course found Issa. Issa is the suffering poet for when you are suffering. Stop reading if you've heard this before, and many readers have heard this from me before: Issa's great rule of life and writing was SIMPLY TRUST.



William Stafford likens writing to swimming. Everyone knows, he says, that something as weak and clear as water can't hold up a human being. You can't walk on water. Yet, when you relax and surrender (trust) the water, you start to float. And though you cannot grab a handhold and force your way along water like you would a cliff or a mountain, you can cup your hands in its evanescence and move yourself along. And watchers on the shore can't believe what you're accomplishing. Especially if they can't swim. I might add that if there is a current, the water carries you if you just let it. And writing has a current.

Writing (water) carries me. When I write, of course, but also when I do not write. Tom McGuane points out that we are all made of 2/3 river water. Well, we are also made up of writing. (Story, if you will; dream, song, thought, aphorism, verse, bullshit, prayer, yarn, explanation, exultation, whispers, rogasmic cries, laments, jokes, memoirs....)

I write it--otherwise it cannot exist. It writes me--otherwise I can't get anywhere. In other words, as I revise my writing, I revise myself. As I revise my words, I revise my vision. As I revise my books, I revise my way of being. Or--I am beginning to believe--I allow them to revise me. I am surrendering. I trust. It is a trance state, a dream state, a state of grace. And it's also play-time: wrestling, running, eating chocolate, jumping up and down on the bed.

William Stafford says:

"It tells you:
all you do is tell about it."

The hard part for me is to get to that place where I can simply trust--surrender. It is sometimes hard to enter that space. But once there, I crank like a hurricane.

It's no cheap trick.


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