Writing with your whole brain

IMG_5533You are risking everything reading this. And with these five words…even more. Because in these few seconds you have spread open the lobes of your brain and welcomed me in. How can I ever honour such a gift of time, of self, when the worlds I write could betray you so easily with a slip of continuity, a forced metaphor, a character left hollow by my impatience for your praise… Continue reading

Getting started

getting startedLook closer… is this a scrap of garbage or a profound revelation about process? Ironically, I found it while taking a shortcut. Words are alive, and I believe we owe them the dignity of an audience before they are ground down and pulled back into the belly of the Earth. Oh Xena Warrior Princess game manual technical writer, what wisdom doth ye have to bestow? Continue reading

Writing out of the box

IMG_5363We write ourselves into boxes all the time: check which box applies, keep your signature within the lines, what do you “do?”, etc. We wedge ourselves into these tight but cozy places and bend ourselves double to reach their reassuring absolutes. Every box is a story we’ve learned to believe. And there, fully contorted in the dark and stuffy air, we wait. For what? More closet space? Continue reading

Are you a Neal Cassady or a Jack Kerouac?

Neal Cassady Jack KerouacHumanity, at its most raw, is heroic. We celebrate those among us who live the glamour of our extremes and brave the consequences. When sensations and emotions are freed from social conventions to engage with the paradoxical poles of existence in an honest dialogue… well, you get On The Road.

Jack Kerouac typed his seminal Beat scroll in three mad benzedrine fuelled weeks in 1951 after seven years riding alongside its hero, Dean Moriarty – his friend Neal Cassady. Through chronicling Cassady’s untamed (let’s be honest – adolescent) humanity, Kerouac became our hero. For more than 50 years we’ve been wanking off to Kerouac’s rhythmic angst and Cassady’s inspirational intensities. But what happens to our heroes?

Jack Kerouac drank himself to death hiding away with his mother. Neal Cassady stumbled into oblivion… literally! Words have caught them at their most luminous, in that one brief brilliance when an exceptional adult intellect can sing true to its child’s soul, before the brain is forced to mature or push its truths into death. Awful, really.

Sensitive? Overwhelmed? Are you a Neal Cassady or a Jack Kerouac? Do you live your extremes or document them? Do you give of yourself, or your production? The pain is the same, and the joy, but the difference is what is offered up to time and to the broader human system. But here’s the thing. Our heroes don’t give a shit – not about legacy, humanity, or even (through legacy and humanity) immortality. Their brains care about feeling good and whatever story supports that truth – just like ours. But fame and fortune don’t matter to our heroes, social awards and ‘doing the right thing’ don’t feed or sustain – that’s why they’re our heroes!

Maybe we don’t have to choose. Maybe there’s another way. What if we make the exploration of our humanity the article of production? What if the act of life without limits becomes a chronicle in real-time that can only exist with continued participation of that life? What if we take Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle into our own systems? What if “look what I did” becomes “look what I am”? What if we let the act of writing, the mood of the day, even the choice of outfit, build our stories?

What if we dare to become our heroes?

Blank Canvas Thinkers: Robert Ludlum quote about writing for an audience

When Robert Ludlum turned 40, he went rogue. Not an easy age for any man, Ludlum’s crisis was compounded by the ugly realization that he could no longer support his family through his theatre work. What happens when doing what you love won’t pay the bills? Deep, unremitting, soul crushing despair, and then you move on; most to a staid mediocrity within the system, but some, like our hero Ludlum, just say ‘to hell with it’ and pick up a pen – because writing is so much more lucrative than acting… suuure. When he told his wife he’d been thinking about writing for a living, her response was this: “You’re either going to try it or you’re going to regret (not trying) it for the rest of your life.”

The man gave it his all – how could he not with such saintly support? Just imagine them lying together in the dark, both stressing about money, and he rolls over and suggests writing as a solution – miracle she didn’t smother him out on the spot! But she must have known the secret, his edge in an age of self indulgent novelists, that a true entertainer can work his craft in any medium. And so, like his best known literary creation, Jason Bourne, Ludlum used the skills, talents, and training of his past life to find a new creative identity within a different world.

Click Here to watch an excellent short biographical documentary on Robert Ludlum… bestselling author, master of suspense, chronicler of heroes, and one of the luckiest husbands in human history.