ON WRITING: THE AIMS, TRICKS AND TRAVAILS AND METHOD, BY WALKER BALLANTINE,W.G.MILNE

 

ON WRITING:

 

 
The whole thing about writing
and about life is to work things
until you get into a flow experience.
Whether it’s the flow of words, or the flow
of lovemaking, or the flow of a healthy
sport – running, cycling, and tennis –
the idea is to work it until you get into
the ZONE.
The Zone is a flow experience,
and, as I say, this is the aim.

*

Now that combination of Wray and
Nephew over proof, full strength, white
rum from Jamaica (you can light a lantern with it!);
gout in the knee – the pain of gout in the
knee can drive you mad; and a good
solid dose of biorhythms moving into mania…
well, I had a flow experience, all right.
The agony of gout in the knee;
the clean-headed drunkenness of the
overproof, and the high-paced
metabolism of mania. Rather than shouting
out the pain, I was writing it out into a
stream of intensity that no moral arbiter
in the mind, and no mental editor could cope
with…
Looking back on it, it was an
interesting experience, but no way
do I want to go back into that
wild state of mind. Anyway, sorry

for whatever crazed rudeness I laid

on you.

*

What I will do is go over
the sixty or so pages I typed up
instead of screaming or swinging
from a chandelier…. and see how
much of ought to be published…
And how much of it has been

published already.

That’s the plan.
And it may take some time.
*
But let me say, I don’t think anybody is stupid
to read my stuff when it is unedited. Sorry about
that. Truth is, some of my best stuff comes out unedited.
That’s what I’d read if I wanted to learn about writing
Frankly, it’s smart to read the unedited pages,
if you can stand the incoherence. I was throwing pages
out around the room – like a maniac.
You should see this place!
*
My theory is you edit nothing at first.
Then hopefully go over it, with a blue pencil, and THEN
publish it. (I know they don’t use a blue pencil
anymore.) Or at the very least -DON’T PUBLISH
IT THE SAME NIGHT YOU ARE DRINKING!
When maybe you’re getting loaded and starting to
turn ugly.
*
It’s taken a lot of years to learn how
to write the way I wanted to – as I speak, myself –
and how other people speak. It’s best to learn
hanging out with hookers, drug dealers and the
strong arm boys.
*

Most street corners, you’ll find them.
The trick is to not get stabbed, robbed,
or have unprotected sex. If you’re going
to have street sex, do it in such a way
that you don’t catch anything terminal.
I guess you could argue that death
is a flow experience, but it’s not
what we’re looking for right now.
*
I want to write the way people talk – minus
a few expletives. Sometimes, of course,
you have to leave all the four letter swear
words in – if you’re in the middle of the action,
or writing an intense argument. In other words,
there are times when you can’t leave much out at
all.

*
What’s his name?-Keruoac had a theory
that he wanted to bring it all out unedited, and it’s
claimed he more or less did. I don’t believe that.
But maybe he came close.
Some other writers: Jean Genet came close also
in, “Our Lady Of The Flowers”…who else? Henry Miller, at times.
Salinger .The guy who did, “Monkey House”, Vonnegut,
sounds like he’s doing it… writing unedited. He’s not, his stuff is well crafted, but he sounds like he’s talking straight to the reader.
Hemingway, great with the straight
narrative – telling what’s happening etc: not so good
with the dialogue. But you can argue that point,

 if you like.

His work is edited many times.

*

Celine, also, very much so in “A Long Day’s
Journey Into Night” , that brilliant book! He sounds like
he’s having a relaxed conversation with the
reader. Seeming like he’s talking right to the reader
and being unedited – the two things are related
but they’re different issues.
Both Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs
visited Celine in France in the mid 50s…
he was one the fathers of writing
with slang and clipped street rhythms –
in order to achieve the flow.

*
Stephen King and Elmore Leonard
both very street-sounding dialogue, and you gotta
love them for it. Elmore Leonard’s novel-talk
makes you feel like you’re in the same
room with him, having a relaxing drink.

*

Anyway, the disgusting images
and the ugly/nasty narrative
the unnecessary rudeness
that was the flow that was natural
to the pained, ugly mood I was in…
But I should have edited it
later.
Plenty of women have left me
for this very thing. I come on like a schoolboy,
then a month goes by… and I step into my
natural mania, drink some Seagram’s Rye,
and then soon afterwards, have gout in the
knee and…
Then I tend to shout…and wave a
cane around…One time I drove down a
fairly busy highway – driver’s door was open
and I was swinging an axe at other cars, who
were coming too close to my knee.
And that was just gout in the
knee … with no other added fuels!
*
To be honest, if I wanted to be a writer –
I’d see if I could get a glimpse of unedited
manuscripts at the library… when you
see a page of the first manuscript, you’ll
see how badly even excellent writers
start out… then watch their improvement
when you see the actual book when it’s published.

*

It’s not a bad technique and I recommend it.

You’ll also feel a lot better about yourself

and your own work at the same time.

*

I hope this helps a little.

 

 

(C) 2013-2016 by W.G. Milne, Temple’s Gate Publishing and John Rock Corporation

 

 

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