Monday, 27 November 2006

The very process of writing

Writing, I have found, is a process of technically controlled self-distraction. In my case it involves the cultivation of a writing state: loud music through headphones, strong coffee through the mouth and into the bloodstream, an absorption in the mere process of tapping at a keyboard that it would not be wholly wrongheaded to call trance-like. Naturally a writer must maintain some degree of rational and intellectual control over what he or she is writing, but I prefer to favour the absence-seizure model of first draft writing, and to bring in Enlightenment Reason to judge the rewrites, the second and third drafts, the reconsiderations. The damage it can do, at this secondary stage, being limited, you see. No writer wants to produce mere splurge, of course. But no writer, I would submit, can write with somebody staring hard at them whilst they write, even (no: especially) if that person is themselves. You get self-conscious. You get embarrassed. The words come awkwardly, or stop coming at all. You feel like shouting ‘leave me alone! Get out of my study! You’re putting me off!’

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