Writing is something hard to manage. Giving up is way too easy, staring at a blank page is the best way to dissipate thoughts, and self doubt creeps in before you even put pen to paper.
But that’s why writers have Kerouac.
Jack Kerouac was a part of the Beat Generation writers that were writing things in the 1950s spurred on by World War II, characterizing how sick of war they were, inspiring the hippie movement against Vietnam.
He wrote plenty of novels, most famous probably his On the Road, which will make you promptly drop everything to travel cross country. The Subterraneans is another of his, written in a three day haze of psychedelics and drugs. But my favorite fact about Kerouac is the way he was too impatient for his typewriter, inking out his thoughts on an infinite scroll rather than switching out sheet after sheet.
Once he started writing, he flew. And writing like him, you can, too.
His rules go like this:
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
I tried it, late the other night, not quite as inebriated and high as Kerouac would’ve been, but presumably sleep deprived. Composed in the hours when the clock reads morning but the sky reads night, these words were written, an unedited mass, here you go.
Last night I texted Cam because I needed to read his poem. You know, that one. The conversation between God in the form of a Caribbean lady and a writer. “Oh, you writers.” And of course, him being himself, he had torn it up in a hazed state some nights before.
“Oh, you writers.” We are artists, perhaps the most dangerous ones to be left alone to. It’s a little harder to destroy the tangible arts, the canvas with paints can be torn up and collaged to make greater masterpieces. Writers can hate the art before it comes to life, and kill it before it has a chance. Aborting potential catharsis, we delete and we slap the sides of our head and we bang the flats of our hands on our keyboards.
Substandard is the regularity, poetic is something too easy to be, emotions are constantly felt too strongly to make the head a clear enough space to think. In the masses of personalities and feelings of inferiority there is always one that can be heard loud enough over any validation. Approval is what we thrive off of, but writers aren’t given much of that, not when they work so hard to overturn the reinforcement.
My pieces aren’t like yours, yet they are. Derivative is a dialect I speak, unoriginal is a prediction of my fate, and every word I write has been written in a different order before. Creative thought is not a possible feat, and somewhere someone a little shorter has had the same revelation moments before I.
Creation is something we find ourselves addicted to, shooting up dialogue and descriptions to the veins that run with incorrigible attitudes. Don’t ask us if we’d pursue art without suffering, don’t tell us to carve out a comfortable life. I want to write in shacks to the metronome of a leaky ceiling, I want to creak on weak floorboards through a train track pierced night finding my way to my pen and paper. My characters will be embodiments of everything I hate about my life, because hate is better fuel for characters, even though I will confess, all you need is love.
Love is something we find ourselves polarizing against. Love, praise, encouragement will impair us. Do not tell me that my words make you smile and laugh and cry. Your emotions will relieve me of a necessary fervor. Feverish Sharpie stains the walls of my mind, my mind is a library, the bookshelves are empty, I need more words. I will never find words that you haven’t felt in some sense before. The touch that you say my writing gives your heart, what an orgasmic impact, and you cannot tell me that. You think that compliments are what make me better. Sure. A temporary elation, relief, birthing complacency, I stop to think that you are enough. I am enough. I stop because lethargy and laziness pairs with love.
I am not enough. I will never be, you see, able to say enough. Thoughts are infinite, even if you do not have enough time to think them all. As you lay awake at night and stare into the backs of your eyelids and your thoughts wander, you don’t chase every tailing comet. You try to reflect, you try to pray, you try to gather preparations and attack the next day and all its possibilities. But instead, you fantasize and you give into carnal nature and you do not stick with the good thoughts. Perhaps, we are prone to the bad thoughts. Perhaps, but the bad thoughts are what interest you, the bad thoughts are what I ought to write.
You see, I am writing right now without any proof. I have nothing to say but what comes to mind, but I am also writing without constantly skipping back up to read every past paragraph. Instead, letters are buttons I press, and monkeys at typewriters could do my job. But I tend to entertain better than monkeys, I have a little more than two opposable thumbs, some might call me pretty. And being pretty is important as a writer.
Us writers are unfortunate to be alive right now. Art is a hobby, a pastime, a secondhand habit. Artists are not true artists, no, we are unfortunate and terrible businessmen. Or women. Equality is a thing now. It is a trend. Trends are something we waste time trying to learn. Perhaps I need to be trendy. I need to know what the people like. I need to create for the people. Society. God, I hate when people talk about society as if it’s a sentient manifestation of something you can blame everything on. But I guess a part of me is a poet and has a lust filled affair with society, too. Trends and society and business triumph art, do they not? When the cliche has begun, when being an artist is preferable because it elevates your platform, because fake numbers are plumping your ego, get out of my face. Life does not imitate art, art is our reaction. If you do not use art to react, fuck off.
Censorship exists for a reason, to keep innocence in check until the parents are willing to realize that labor and pushing a child out of your vagina does indeed have a price. I mean, you think that curse words are a separate category because society has told you, of course. Society is to blame, of course. But we are society, of course. Categories exist, borders exist, boundaries exist to create false senses of security. That was something I heard once, children need boundaries. Otherwise, they grow up to think they can do anything, and that is far from acceptable. Perhaps, they grow up to think that they can be artists. Damn artists. Always thinking that art can substitute food and water and shelter and that other fourth thing that humans need. Was it clothes? Humans do not need clothes. That is another lie that society will tell you, but of course, we have decided that we want to believe what we tell ourselves. Art can replace all of that, I tell you.
Art dictates that there is beauty in everything, of course, but because we are unwillful businessmen, we want to make the kind of beauty you agree with. Less food is better, art replaces food. I want to be thinner, I want you to be thinner, I want to paint thin bodies, that is what I was told, that is what the images told me. So be thinner. Stop food. Food is replaced with art. Sometimes, food is art. Sometimes, dirty walls are art. Anything can be art if you have the right people to appreciate it. I may not be the right person. I will judge you. Everyone will judge me. But, I will judge you all more.
I simply want to write two thousand words. I want to write that much. Everyday. For a while. How long did they say it takes a habit to form? I need to write. There’s that high that makes me feel like I have it. If I can make something real in mere letters, I can make my life barely perfect enough to live. I need to stop. Stop following what they want me to do. What do they want me to do? I am just writing. If I do not stop writing, I can keep ignoring them. My neck is hurting, because of all the craning over those plastic desks, the ones with the chairs attached. The tests they handed out, the numbers they attached to my abilities, it was valid, all of it. Was it? Because I doubt that I am completely fitting to their spectrum. I doubt I am the poster child that they want. It’s all blurring. I cannot tell what words are what, all I know is that I cannot stop.
Do not stop, writer, do not stop. Writing is therapy, because sometimes there is nothing wrong with what comes to mind. I believe I have captured what unorganized thought is. Have I not mixed embarrassing momentos with every thought with tiny bouts of anger with utter confusion with everything else? I remember feeling stuck and unwilling to restart, so that signals when you continue forward. “BLOW.” Yes, he told me, “BLOW.” I am blowing. I have no object, but I am blowing, because I refused to stop, I refused to go back, I refused to edit, I refused to think too much. Stop thinking too hard. Simply keep on. You can’t think about it, because the reality is we’re all fucked up. But it is fine because you could go your whole life without knowing it, it is a hard thing to realize. None of us want to believe we’re really as screwed as we are, so being completely normal is a belief we love to subscribe to. Normalcy is simply convenience in the eyes of the majority. Perhaps you are not normal here, so you travel elsewhere to find where there are fewer that think of you as an annoyance. There is no object in mind, sometimes there are only places in mind. Places with people. People with minds. Minds that do not always mirror my own, they hardly ever mirror my own, only because I cannot cut them open.
Do you remember the first time you held a knife? Did you cut something open? Did you dissect an animal, did you make dinner, did you kill something? Did you kill a spirit? If it makes you more comfortable, I can turn that into a metaphor. Metaphors make people more comfortable, henceforth they make me more normal. People like metaphors. But not the New Age Creationists, do not tell them that a majority of the Scriptures could be metaphoric, because literally they will disagree. Literal words are on literal paper, no, actually, literal pixels are making marks in the form of literal flickers of light. Is there anything tangible about what I am writing, anything lasting about what I am saying?
I am not saying any of this, I have not opened my mouth once. But thoughts are coming through, are they not? Thoughts are fighting their way through my very thick skull into your very squishy and very pink brain. Congratulations, we have transcended some sort of barrier. My lips are pressed very tightly together, because you see, I have two hundred and fifty words left to tell you about how my mother told me to stop. And I guess, you would retort, pushing me down is the best way to tell me to move forward. There is so much truth in the hypothetical answers I get from this imaginary audience, I do love you. Essentially, the prose has one thesis: the writer does not stop.
If my endless spout of nonsensical words has not convinced you, I will tell you again. I cannot stop. I will reach my limit, and I will not be done. But know this, I am a writer. It is not a near ambition that I will soon BECOME a writer, no, I am a writer, and I know that many do not believe that the process is as simple as I have just described, but it is. And writing is something incredibly hard to do, because out of these two thousand words, only two hundred in a scrambled order will be acceptable to me. And after a little more staring, only two will be good, and neither will be great. You see, nothing will ever be enough for me, because I will never be enough, but that is exactly why I write. Perhaps I can expedite the process, the same process a monkey could perform, because there is more that I can explore, at least, I would like to think my mind is a little more than what a simple chimpanzee can achieve. But who is to know what I compare to, Lord knows I don’t.
And now I am beyond two thousand words, thank you for listening. I’m not done, but I warned you.