The Work of Writing


TORILISA

Due to a series of terrifying life events that none of you would understand, I’m embarking on a month-long project. Fine, if you insist: my sisterwife/fellow sugar daddy-hunter/coffee shop aficionado/curator of divorces/practitioner of extremist fascism/PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE Meriwether “Poet w/ Eye of Dictator” Clarke is out of the country for one month. Where is she, you ask? Oh just my homeland, SOUTH AMERICA. She’s probably digging up Neruda’s bones to see if he was actually murdered as we speak. Now that Ms. Clarke doesn’t have text messaging access 24/7, I have a lot of free time. You say codependence, I say potato. Anyway, I have decided to conduct several experiments. One: Can a Young Woman Really Survive on Nachos and Iced Coffee for an Entire Summer? Two: Staying On Top of Emails. Three: Surviving.

And Four: Which Writing Production Method Works Best for a Frequently Crazed Biddy with Two Jobs and Several Pairs of Converse but No Reliable Form of Transportation Ever Since Evil Hoodlums Wrecked Her Bike’s Innocent Front Tire? Short title: Writing Stuff.

I have never quite hit my writing stride when it comes to the day-to-day grind. I typically write when I have a good idea, because I don’t think inspiration can be harnessed, and also because I’m just so, so, so, so, so cool (see above portrait of me and Lisa Hiton). But as my days get busier and my nights get shorter and I find myself evolving into the female version of a Norwegian summer, I want to give this structured thing a try. Should I do a lot of hemlock, like Socrates drugs, like Hunter S. Thompson? Write prostrate, like Truman Capote? Summon a broken novel out of madness and jealousy, like Zelda Fitzgerald? I’ll start with something a little more straight-edge:

WEEK ONE: PAVLOV’S WRITER.

THE STRUCTURE: Write for one hour a day at the exact same time every day. Only produce new content. Yesterday I wrote 1500 words, or five double-spaced pages, in an hour, so I’m feeling good. No wait: genius. THE HYPOTHESIS: I’m hoping that writing at the exact same time every day–preferably with a fresh cup of coffee in hand–will turn into a sort of Pavlovian thing, where I look forward to the ritual and my brain gears up to be creative at the assigned hour.

WEEK TWO: THE  HUSTLER.

THE STRUCTURE: Down with the Muses. This week is all about making a strict to-do list and accomplishing every single thing on it, from intangible things like revision to tangible things like submitting to literary journals. THE HYPOTHESIS: I don’t think this is a very viable long-term way of writing. However, it might be a useful means of cranking out dreaded revisions and sending pieces off into the ether of Literary Bros Who Start Journals Just to Publish Their Friends.

WEEK THREE: THE LONE (W)RANGER.

THE STRUCTURE: This week is all about inspiration, flirting with the Muses, and wandering lonely as a cloud through places that inspire me (which, unfortunately, are dark alleys and train yards at night. Perhaps I should finally invest in some pepper spray?). No to-do lists, no daily word counts, just activities that a) are proven to help the creative mind (like ignoring the brain’s filter) and b) inspire me personally (like watching Woody Allen films). If I feel like writing, I’ll write. If I get an idea, I’ll jot it down. No pressure. THE HYPOTHESIS: Obviously, I can’t wait for this week. I doubt I’ll produce a lot of concrete work, because, well, it’s easier not to, but I think I’ll come up with a lot of ideas. And if I do nothing but read Neruda in the sand, it will have been a good week. (How’s that for a verb tense?)

WEEK FOUR: TBD.

WHAT SHOULD I TRY THIS WEEK? Writing only by hand? Writing after midnight? Writing in unfamiliar genres? Writing only about love? Only about hate? Outside? Imitating different authors’ styles? Help! I want it to be somewhat useful, and nothing too shtick-y…like sipping on hemlock.

Psst, let me know if you want to join in! I’ll update here, promise. And you can, too.

Email Greetings From My Mother or McSweeney’s Rejection Letters?

1. “LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVe, oodles-style.”

2. “Appreciate your giving us a shot with this one, but I’m afraid we’re not going to use it.”

3.  “You are so very very beautiful inside and out!”

4. “I’m afraid I’m going to pass.”

5. “Love love love ya, kiddo.”

6. “Thanks for the look.”

7. “Oh, my dear, I haven’t conversed with you in much too long a while! Culpa mea, culpa tua, culpa tempo fugit?”

8. “Good to see your trying again, though.”*

9. “Love with a capital Hug.”

Email greetings from my mother: THE AMAZING ONES.

McSweeney’s Rejection Letters: THE TERRIBLE ONES.

(If you don’t know what this list style refers to, see McSweeney’s lists such as this one, written by my awesome friend Elizabeth.)

*YES, MCSWEENEY’S REJECTED ME WITH A TYPO.

Revenge Fantasy No. 14 [Video]

I don’t know what happened to the technology-hating pyromanic I used to be, but I now own an iPhone. This means I can now shoot and edit movies (on my MacBook, GAH), and lemme tell you, I AM LOVING IT. There’s something about working in multiple dimensions–sorry, mediums–that is just really, really fun.

Anyway, I was thinking about how musicians are always shooting artsy music videos for their songs, and I started to wonder why writers don’t get to do that for their short-form work? AND WHY DON’T WRITERS GET TO READ THEIR CONFESSIONAL MEMOIRS TO SOLD-OUT STADIUMS WHILE MAKING  MILLIONS IN T-SHIRT SALES?!? WHY DOESN’T ANYONE CARE WHEN WRITERS MAKE CONTROVERSIAL FASHION CHOICES OR POST PICTURES OF CHRIS BROWN ON THEIR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS?

Well. Inaction is no friend of mine, so I decided to start making music videos for my flash fiction. Okay, they’re not music videos. There is no music involved (YET). But they’re conceptually similar. If anyone wants to join me, I’d love to put some up here on toridotgov. Unless they suck, then please don’t send them to me.

(And the iPhone? Every day I fight it for my soul.)