Monday, 14 March 2016

A practice of process.

Brief thoughts on the writing process as practiced in these parts are offered to the reader this week.

Though as always the discourse is valued for its entertainment much above concern for any perceived instructional worth.  Remarks will be limited as even a one-sided discussion of the subject is beyond the length best suited by a blog post.  Regular visitors also appreciate that aside from examples provided by his work the writer offers no advice other than that of disinterested if reliable observer.  Those seeking argument are thus encouraged to look elsewhere despite the reliable presence of opinions here that may on occasion rankle.  I also remind that while the comment process is reviewed it remains open to all while continuing to demand a modicum of discretion.

A policy of family-friendly content remains in effect here.

The habits of a working life here demonstrated meanwhile despite occasionally appearing either invented or unique are far from that in fact.  Like most my efforts are modeled after techniques popularized by craft pioneers and educators.  It's a monkey-see/monkey-do world if routinely described otherwise by our kind.  The writer is thus not immune to the genetic reality of being part of the tribe.  While living for the most part separate from my fellows I'm not only a product but a recipient of extreme good fortune and grateful for it daily.

The genetic lottery was kind to the writer and gratitude for it remains ever forefront.

My vocational practice was defined by the great educator, poet, and poverty advocate Brian Mackinnon during teenage years in the inner city at Winnipeg, Manitoba.  A city of moderate size found in western Canada, the place is remarkable for a colorful history if less so in reputation.  With literary talent identified in grade school early efforts while appropriate to their maturity were also reliably encouraged.  The writer was then introduced in high school by the English teacher Mackinnon to a variety of practical methods suited to creating both poetry and prose.

That which eventually proved suitable to the writer when drafting prose is an essentially stream-of-consciousness style.

While work habits used to this day were influenced by descriptions of some length provided by Hemingway ~ courtesy of a magazine article attributed to the famed George Plimpton published prior to my birth ~ the process employed here is owed largely to the great teacher of poor and disenfranchised children.  While doubtless an extreme over simplification of what was a long and often difficult process of methodical refinement the point is conveyed.  This development also extended far beyond my school years and the editorial assistance provided by Mackinnon throughout was no less than invaluable.  Without the help there remains serious doubt my work in either literature or music would today exist.  A celebrated Canadian poet Brian continues to work on behalf of the disadvantaged to this writing while I continue with poor effect trying to recall his teachings.

A more fortunate student there has likely not been.

No small amount of hesitation precedes the laying of such enormous blame upon a man for whom the writer holds tremendous respect and admiration.  That the writer was then a horrible student is made plain by the work found in the wake of such a profligate abuser of the loosely applied descriptor.  For all such offenses the teacher is declared blameless by the student guilty of the egregious and continuing errors.  With continued effort the writer hopes in time to reflect more positively on the work of his most honored instructor.

While not prolific the writer has long been noted for a certain mulish persistence.

The perseverance is worth its trouble when mated to the drafting style described as each relies on the other for effect.  A work completed by the writer is often the result of dozens of draft manuscripts, major and minor revisions, multiple line and copy edits, and occasional entire re-writes.  This is aside from and for the most part prior to the proofreading, formatting, and design work also critical to the publishing process.  Thus despite a routine daily writing output of between fifteen hundred and two thousand words a finished novel is many months and sometimes decades in completion.

This of course is due to the copious revisions and edits demanded by a creative process the writer will admit to being at the least lengthy.

Perhaps a more apt descriptor might be re-writer or editor for the hapless scribe so afflicted but to each an individual metaphorical cross is no doubt assigned.  Here the writer remains convinced of both the efficacy and the reliability of a relatively arduous process despite the extensive effort often required by the practice of it.

The history of works completed speaks louder than any criticism that might be applied against it.

In other news 'A Dog and His Boy' continues to earn good reviews while work on novel number three continues unabated at Thorsby.  Steady progress is made and approaching spring speeds the writer to this most loved and difficult of tasks.  Few are so fortunate to discover the relief found among those dark places the writer travels with his work and for it no thanks are too great.

To paraphrase a great craftsman long past but not forgotten, in these parts it most assuredly continues.

Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the blog.

-          TFP
March 14, 2016

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