August 31, 2020

Loose

Struck by this interview with the novelist Amitav Ghosh about the value of working with paper and pencil, and it’s always good for me to be reminded that writing is a physical act:

“Every word I publish has been through thirty edits. My first draft I do with a pencil. I just write freehand with a pencil. I do that for quite a while, and then I write with a pen. I make a draft with a pen. And then I get onto the computer. For me, it would be really kind of crippling if I were to go straight onto a computer. I would just freeze up. I think there’s a lot to be said for trying to find ways of not freezing up, of being able to be loose . . . I think the whole editing process is essentially one of reducing your thoughts into a kind of solidity. You can’t begin with the solidity. You have to begin with a kind of liquidity, if you like. Even a kind of airiness. The whole process of distilling it down to something very solid is that gradual process of going through multiple edits and so on. I think if you were to start at the other end, trying every day to produce something that’s absolutely solid and determinant, it could have the effect of just making you freeze in anxiety.”

I know the subzero temperatures of that freeze far too well. So much effort goes into avoiding that chill. And there’s an interesting twist in the idea of cultivating, even practicing looseness.


Amen Dunes – Lower Mind

Through Donkey Jaw | Sacred Bones, 2011 | Bandcamp
Each night in 2020 I'm writing a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I want to etch these days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changes completely.
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