ali_writing

Writing Process

December 10, 2008

I thought I would take a brief snapshot of my writing process with the completion of two new pieces and a quick summery of my writing to this point.

Beneath the Brook

A swallows call
led us into the reeds
where old letters and sad songs
stain the waters
the night we buried our names
beneath the brook

we bled ourselves in promise
sharpened each others teeth
stole into barns
and tore through lambs
frenzied by their meat
we stumbled down rabbit holes
and laid in repose
slowly stroking moral dilemmas
with the tips of our fingers
taking sips from each other
until the salt and lime cut our lips
and the rumble of far away storms
shook the windows

frightened
and hungry to be swallowed
you slipped pale and raw
into my dark innocence
our bodies poured down sweaty walls
while cracked windows rattled in dry frames
so we were
(dry to the bone but wet to the touch)

now in the silent decay of night
the thin hiss of my charred body
calls you with a small voice
but you left
with a twist of laughter
and a handful of sharp angles

i try to sleep
through the confused flashes of panic
between my sensible mind
and aching body
that never destroyed me for the better.

Sleeping in the Sun

Your first word
was my secret name
smeared in margins
of old books

on hot june days
i pour down shelves
drip through floor boards
and stain your thighs

in frayed edges
torn from sleep
through silver waters
you return
scorched and sparkling
pouring your fingers
through my hair
into my stomach
filling me
until you
sear my lungs
coughed up by morning
licked raw by your light

i thought i saw you
while i slept
but it was just the city
glowing through the trees

when i woke
i thought i had a red haired wife
but i was sleeping in the sun.

I first time I remember trying to write verse was as a teenager when I tried to write a short nostalgia piece mimicking the introductory lines to one of my favorite video games from the nineties called Tetris Attack. The game displayed these lines before the start screen:

Now,
let’s play together…

Together under the
clearest of blue skies…

My take on this theme came out this way:

Red Smoke

You’re a sweet smelling red smoke
curling and laughing playfully

a sneaky little thing
flashing your silly smile

but your play is wise
filling your life with meaning.

Encouraged by the effort I went on to write a number of short pieces in that vein. Mostly abstract, floral, sentimental pieces like this one:

Our Landscape

leaves shatter crisp beneath
our steps press
twig snaps dirt scrapes

the trees above
drizzle autumn blaze
swish dry hush shake

blushing warm sunset
through our landscape.

I eventually outgrew the sentimentality of these floral freeze-frames and went on to try to impart a clearer sense of purpose, with more of an emotional and thematic direction.

These new pieces were much more deliberately composed rather than improvised like my earlier pieces. My process eventually became to do a whole lot of stream of conciseness writing while holding a certain emotional/mental pitch in my mind, until I had a handful of potential lines and passages. Then individually sculpt these chunks until they eventually made clear to me how they all wanted to fit together. Which they always did, showing me that I was unconsciously sculpting the overall shape even when I thought I was making purely myopic choices about the individual chunks.

Once together I would churn through draft after draft of the whole piece with an eye to reduce and simplify and steer away from overly obvious or indulgent temptations until I felt the piece as a whole communicated that original abstract emotional/mental pitch that prompted the piece in the first place.

ali_writing

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