Saturday, November 5, 2011


Photo by me
The following was written originally as a letter to KLP (seen above).

You inadvertently gave me the topic for my next blog when you told me you were having trouble writing yours.

Art is the product of leisure. Humans did not make a lot of art until there were enough surpluses in the food supply system to allow for frivolity. Even writing a factual information-based blog such as yours requires what I most often call "staring-at-the-ceiling-time", because I do a lot of my writing in nap position on the sofa.. Other times, I write while I am walking or running, when my knees permit. 

Of course, writing is a job, but it is not always a job that is carried out with pen in hand or fingers on keys. That is the mechanical part of writing or rewriting. But writing is only a small part of writing, oddly enough. Art is the product of leisure, albeit a focused and disciplined leisure, sometimes. Typing is not writing; it is just typing.

No one knows where creativity comes from, but when it comes, the trick is to quiet the "noise machine" that is running constantly in the human brain so that the creative thoughts can fight their way onto the page. Only Zen Masters can quiet the "noise machine" totally, but the writer has to be able to quiet it down enough on enough occasions to let the creativity flow. It is a trick. And if lying on the sofa or running or peeling potatoes or taking a bath works, don't be afraid to leave the keyboard and pick up a veggie peeler or a bottle of bubble bath.

Once upon a time, I wrote a lot of poetry and some of it was excellent and some just maudlin school-boyish rambling, but during the one or two year "poetry period" I never wrote one verse unless I had at least one alcoholic drink in me and usually one and a half or two. After three drinks, the creativity stopped, replaced by the meaningless muttering of an alcohol buzz. Not one poem sober... I needed the alcohol to shut down the "noise machine" in my brain, but not to replace the noise with the inevitable  incompetence is inebriation. Now, writing prose, which requires more time than one or two hundred word poems, alcohol is not my drug of choice. since a good prose writing session consists of writing 500 to 1500 words in an hour or three--at least 300 words past the point of inebriation were I to be drinking.  An 88,000 word novel would require drinking about 500 liters of beer at a cost of about $3000 in money, buying larger pant sizes and getting a liver transplant. I know I have to suffer for art, but buying larger pants is a price I am not willing to pay.


  1. Your creative advice on how to be creative is inspirational, but when was the last time you saw me pick up a " vegetable peeler?" And please mention that your pants are getting "smaller," therefore you must be doing justice to your creative soul. In the meantime, you remain the major force that sets my writing, and my creativity, in motion. Thank you.

  2. gonna larn you to cook too one a these here day, lil' missy...