Saturday, December 08, 2007

Writing about writing--and other crazymaking processes

Blogging about the actual practice of writing is somehow dangerous.
It's like watching your fingers while you type; damn sure you'll get typos and strikeovers.

I notice E. A. Monroe has wisely pulled back on her blog so she could do some serious cutting on her submission to an Amazon contest.

Writing about writing, however, seems to bother sometime correspondent Sela Carsen not a whit.
She blogs and she publishes.

Well, I'm not going to write about writing.
It is a mysterious, somewhat wasting process. Who was it who said, "Writing? Just open up a vein and bleed."

So I think I'm going to "bleed" for a while.

So easy to blog.

So difficult to actually write.

Seems lately, in this flu season, everybody's coming down with something, certainly Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD?).

I think of Hippocrates, the original scientifc doctor:

"Life is short, art is long. Healing difficult."

I am opting for a long life, and, hopefully, long art.

Hope it all works. There is something so therapeutic in picking up an old trade and typing, typing, typing madly.



TomCat said...

{{Wondering where Ivan got the pic of my toilet...))

eric1313 said...

'Tis true, just let the fingers go crazy on the keyboard, come back and make the paragraphs all pretty later.

I hope you have the old flow going. That's what all these blog posts and long responses are for, to be in contact with friends while ensuring we type at least a thousand words every day.

And in my case, I needed the experience and the people to converse and spare with especially. My writing wasn't as good then, not by a long shot. Blogging is surprisingly positive, now that I have a a few months under my belt.

Keep us posted and write like the wind, just page to page, letting god sort it all out.

That was the best advice I'd heard. Brilliant teacher, slowly brightening student, that's me.

But you already know this stuff. The Cossack Dormouse always knows what is what.

ivan said...

Yep, Eric.
That and a little luck.
I no sooner decided to go on this tack when half my research shows up in the morning paper.
Some months back, I had gone on line to say only the deeply resarched is truly interesting...You have to research a novel.
Many commentators countered this.

Still, in the short run, it's reserch research.
Wht powerful tools we have today.
Makes me wonder how we did it at all in the old typrwriter days.
The doormouse will roar! Heh.

ivan said...


As a cat who veritably carries an ice pack on his back, I'm sure you can multitask fine. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

So far bloging about writing has helped me with my own work, but mainly for non-fiction.

ivan said...

Break a leg on that poetry you have just sent out, Charles.
I'd certainly like to see some of it.

Sienna said...

It (blogging) can be anything you choose it to be, no?

That's the thing.

Sometimes I wander off in blogland and forget to come home; it's so diverse, so interesting...

People sharing their talent, their thoughts, observations, lives, stories, their art.

Some just have an absolute gift, you could write the alphabet out Ivan and it would be legendary.


Sienna said...

Actually are you okay and warm enough there in Newmarket? It was minus 24 degrees in Winnipeg recently; hope you are warm enough mate.


ivan said...

You have warmed the old cockles just by your care. Thanks.

I am snug as a bug. Rent has gone up, but along with it comes heat and a plumber to fix my abominable bathroom leaks.
Home and dry now.
I don't even have to pay my electric heating bill, which would be quite staggering were it not for a special arrangement with the Region (county).
Thanks so much for your continuing support and your cheerleading for my work over in Australia. Fair dinkum indeed.
And who could not be warmed even more by those wonderful photos from your exotic locale, where Kanga and Roo still abound
and the Qantas koala seems to have the attributes of Winnie the Pooh.
You live in a wonderland that could be straight out of a children's story.
Your note is a jar of honey for a furry Pooh over here.
thanks, mate.

the walking man said...

If writing is opening a vein and letting it bleed onto the page are you saying that blogging is not blowing your nose and letting it drip onto the keyboard?

I am so Goddamn funny I scare myself.



benjibopper said...

there's a great book called 'secrets' or something like that, kind of an art project. a guy invited people to send their secrets on postcards, got a huge response. one of the confessions read something like this: Money Made Teaching Creative Writing: $656,000; Money Made Creative Writing: $0.

But, Kerouac made lots typing and none teaching. Someone once said Kerouac was less a writer than a typist. Still, I like some of the results, and so do millions of others. If he hadn't drank all the profits who knows what he might have done with the fodder of the 1970s for material.

All that is to say, enjoy the process and I wish you luck with the results!

benjibopper said...

Ivan: I agree with you about research, it is so important to get the right feel, the authenticity.

ea monroe said...

Hi, Ivan! I'm glad to hear you're all warm and comfy. We're having a major ice storm here in OK.

We had our company Christmas party last night and what a grand time it was with everyone smashed and stoned. The Boss, who says he's not a boss but we call our fearless leader, said if you have a talent you should do everything you can to share that talent with others.

You certainly do that and we are all the better for the talent you have shared with many of us -- and that includes your teaching here on your blog and in your emails.

Last night, I felt like I was in the middle of a Tennessee William's play. I found a lot of inspiration and "filled the well."

Okay, I'm off to do a little more word cutting - from which I've learned a lot!

Have an excellent Sunday! ~Liz

Josie said...

Hi, Ivan, I hope you're staying warm.

You know, blogging doesn't have to be detailed writing. It's a form of communication, touching base with everyone.

You once had a lot of traffic on one of your posts when you put up a picture of your shorts. Remember that?

If you want to write, you should write, and just blog to say hello to everyone. We would miss you if you went away.

ivan said...

From Monty Python, where Eric Idle
prances: "This (I demonstrate) is a silly walk."

We once had a cat whose name was Farquar. He was a silly Farquar.

That was funny indeed, Walking Man.

You are definitely on the mendl.

eric1313 said...

Yes, write like you are possessed by an ancient Eurasian devil-god.

But if you have an idea and you want to know different opinions on it, that's a good way to use blogging, as a sounding board.

You'll get lots of feedback from us, as well you know. And maybe even a few more good ideas.

ivan said...


Yep. The teaching of creative writing. I guess I made about $5o,000, all spread out.
They also forced me to teach math and you can see the result from my tabulating above. My degree was in Journalism for crissakes and the only thing I remember about math is
Pythagoras' warning: :Don't eat beans!"
I take it the great P was a gassy guy too.

Yep, old Truman Caposie's comment on Kerouac's writing: "That's not writin', that's typin'.


There is a quote from Truman Capote's autobiography where he was really nervous with his first "date" as a male prostitute.
Said the client, "Don't worry. I'm not going to cornhole you, old buddy."
Talk about strange bedfellows!

Hey, real quote. No sh*t.

......See what happens when you blo too much? You get twisted. :)

ivan said...

p.s. to Benjibopper,

I've obviously over-researched on Mr. Capote.

ivan said...



Yes, commentators can supply some good ideas.
I do believe there was a Gilgemesh myth in old Scythia, but it was more like Samson and Delilah.
Speaking of Gilgemesh, the story out of Ur-Babylon seemed to me a great example of male pair bonding.
The story was somehow saved by Gilgemesh taking his male fightin' buddy to a prostitute (in 4,000 BC?) and getting him screwed, blued and tattoed.
Research is everything! :)

ivan said...


Your own writing (blogging) is par excellence.
All you guys have supplied a lot of energy to this blog.

For some reason, once Eric 1313 joins the debate, the comments go up by fifty per cent...I guess he and I and some others are night owls and out of cigarettes, nervously buttoning, buttoning, buttons of words.

ivan said...


You got oodles of talent yourself.
Your accounts of being a child in Oklahoma, country doctor's daughter
in a small community, girls dressed in sackloth and gingham, lifelong friendships established--makes for truly fascinating reading.
I so identify somehow.
(I was only the son of a local Ukrainian capitalist soon thwarted by the Commies, but how I do remember the sackcloth and the coarse hominy and collard greens ...No bacon. Commissar walked off with the pig).
I do believe that during the Depression and just before the War,
my part of the world was exactly like dustbowl Oklahoma. We too had our own well, though the Commissar took the pump!

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi, Ivan: Remind everyone out there to have their vitamin D levels checked. Too much S.A.D. and I'm thinking more vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency out there than we realize!

And, yes...write, write, write. Let it flow!


ivan said...

Thanks, Donnetta.

I get my Vitamin D from Canadian sardines--but then the whole neighbourhood knows I've had them! :)
Sent out something today.
Egad, I've just had a look at "sent items". Fraid it sucked.
Ah well, time will tell.


Shesawriter said...

Too much writing about writing IS dangerous. I'm trying to balance it all myself.

BTW, that picture has got me baffled. How does a guy stand up and go if the TV is attached to the front? LOL! Okay, never mind. ;-)

ivan said...


I just stopped blogging for a day and started writing.

That monitor may as well have been plumbed to my toilet. I never saw so much uh, familiar substance.

Out of shape!..Some say writing is like a muscle...So much easier to watch girls doing Pllates on the TV.
Then I had a dizzy spell...Gotta stop dipping into the Listerine when I'm out of liquor!
(Seem lately, one has a lot of class, but it's all lower. LOL).

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


Then type away... let your fingers walk the hallways of your mind until they reach the inside of the bottle and have drank the last drop. For only then will you be sure that you have written the best you can offer... but then I would expect nothing less.

Soft love,

ivan said...



Isadora said...

:) I think the big H WAS right: "Life is short, art is long. Healing difficult."

I'm not addicted either although seldom get up from this chair. When a friend saw a roll of toilet paper on my desk he said somewhat amazed 'you really don't get up from here, do you?" rest assured, it was just lack of tissues for my allergies :)

ivan said...

Song phrase from the Fifties:
"You can see it all on your crystal ball."

Sienna said...

I am sending you all a little kangaroo-verse :)

Sorry it's short and brief, I was under the pump.

If I'm not around for a while, I have just taken my Mum to see her ailing older brother..

I will miss y'all.

Take care, keep warm and don't do anything to frighten the horses.

If I'm not back before xmas have a great one; everybody!!

Love from me


Ps I'll try and get some pics of Adelaide to show you, but I might be kinda doing hospitalizing...see how I go.

Long live Quarks and Anti Quarking

ivan said...


And Quantas

And Royal Australian Air Force
Kangaroo Roundel forever!

Merry Christmas and may the sick be well.


benjibopper said...

ha! too funny, i read that one too. in fact, the only kapote i've read was his autobiography. wasn't a fan. probably would have been better if i'd read his other stuff first.

eric1313 said...

How has it been going?

I'm glad to see you are on a productive bent. It was what I wanted to see for a while. You might have ten more novels, all sitting inside you like Russian dolls, and we don't know it and you don't know it, not until you can get one out from in front of another.

The universe and all the glorious, profound words in it are your plaything.

Have fun.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Ivan... too much drama... I am losing my mind!!!!

ivan said...


I was especially intrigued that Truman had an IQ of 200.(sic).
No wonder he never took a single note in the course of his interviews of witnesses during the writing of In Cold Blood. He just remembered every word and circumstance.

ivan said...

Wow. What a belle lettre.
(You share a trait with Margaret Atwood. She can really get it on when she describes John Updike's writing on dustjackets)
As for me, I'll try to keep the wind up, though lately I really feel as if I'd been tied to the mast. Friggin bankers and taxmen.

ivan said...


What an elegant comment.
Thanks you!

I once put up a non-verbal blog, shortly after 9ll, a print of Frencesco Goya's "Burial of the Sardine."
I you look closely at that painting you will see a moonlike image of what looks for all the wrold like Osama bin Laden, and the two pennants like the twin towers...At least that's the way it seemed to me when I as high on my favourite drug.
I ran the 200-year old picture without verbal comment and a friend wrote in: "Stop f*cking with the universe."

(Crosses himself)

ivan said...


HAL 2OOO in the movie, 200l:
"I am losing my mind, Dave.
I can feel it, Dave
"I can feel it..."

eric1313 said...


Other bloggers are having the same problem as you. My friend Blancodeviosa had to change her template to one of the generic versions. She had a beautifully customized one with her own banners all over it made from her photographs. All of a sudden, it wouldn't let her log in. So she had to change it.

I hope that doesn't happen to mine, I've spent too much time gathering all my page elements together!

Just figured I'd cheer you on with the writing process. It's lonely work, putting the legends living in our minds to print.

And hoping to retain that legendary factor, too.

I lift a shot of your favorite drug in honor of the process!

I think smirnoff is your favorite drug. I could be all wrong.

ivan said...

Hi Eric,

This is valuable information.

Seems I've got the google problem with Facebook now as well.

Jeesus, sixty years of using my brain, and I hate to think...
I blogged on this before. Google seems to be sucking up my brain along with my son's beautifully designed, novel- bearing website.
...Nows Facebook wants all my Google information. WTF.
Right in the middle of my madness.

Ah, with a "knick-knack, Tabernac, give a dog a bone"...

ivan said...


Facebook/Google problems solved by now--by the Facebook team.

My goddam nerve storms in the middle of the night!

You have terrific insight, even unto your own work.

"hoping to retain that legendary factor, too."



eric1313 said...

Well, glad that's solved. Hope you get the blogger bugaboo in order next.

Now I'm going to deal with some problems, later when I get home. Seems there's a libelous crank walking around these parts. You know how bad those are.

Talk to you later, Ivan. Peace.

ivan said...




I once accused a UK blogger of being a damn hard worker, but it was unfortunate that he couldn't write his way out of a wet paper bag.
Answer comes from the bloggers's wife:
"Ivan, you are an asshole."

"I knew that," I'd aswered
"I thought I'd learn something new in this blog." :)

Johanna said...

Ivan, I see our friends Liz and Donnetta are in the middle of a HUGE ice storm. Holy Toledo!

Send out some good vibes for them.


If this post shows up as Johanna, it's because I am developing a split personality. Heh.

ivan said...


I am not Bob Dylan, but I have visions of Johanna.
From the "funny" you sent me last night, I began to see Josie as a pole dancer. This "Pole" much heated. You got any more pics and info like that?
Sure took the edge out of the 3:30 blues.

Yeah, Oklahoma. 75 per cent of people without power, a dozen deaths. Ice, ice and more ice.
Nothin' movin'.
Hope the two Quarks there are okay.

eric1313 said...

Couldn't write his way out of a wet paper bag?

Could he write ten pounds of shit and stuff it in a two pound bag?

Champagne Rain said...

Wow! This is some serious shit ...

For a change of pace ,

How 'bout a poem about titty-sex?:

'Close to Midnight ,

it would seem ,

Love is best ,

with peaches and cream ...

ivan said...


Scat-writin' and scatology, I say. :)

ivan said...

Donut shop owners beware.
"Champagne" is after your cream tarts.
Also your tarts.
Stay abreast, Champagne Rain.

Champagne said...

Ivan ,

Hey , tits alright ...

ivan said...

I think we're all going tits up.

Champagne Rain said...

Wot ?

It's not even 2 o'clot , wot ?

It is the hour , when writers

wither , and poets strain ...

Unless they sprinkle ,

their refrain ...

ivan said...

Veriy nice, Champagne.

Best I can offer is a parody of sorts.

"Hail to thee,blithe bird!"

"Wot? I'm a titmouse."

Champagne Rain said...

Life , and Alcohol --- is FUN !

Not to mention , the unmentionables.

brut force said...

Actually , the inarticulate

expression of exuberance ,

I meant to convey , was :

Wow !

ivan said...

Here is what makes me go wow, but it's out of l964 and there are days I wish I'd been Richard Farina, though he died on about the day he published "Been Down So Long It Feels Like Up to Me".
It might be the beginning of scat writin':

Richard Farina:

...while roaming the streets in a hopeless attempt to pace away an oily guilt, to purge the accusing picture of Simon sucking an exhaust pipe, he looked into his rucksack for a vial of paregoric to soothe his agitated nerves. But instead he found the Code-O-Graph, neatly sprung in two where it had been sitting, with all innocence of inanimate purpose, in a bed of rabbit's feet. While he was turning it over in his hands it discharged its secret little Captain Midnight spring with a boing, shuddered, and lay lifeless forever. (110)

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