The stuff within the thing
Last time I talked about writing your way into writing. Writing as a way of finding out what you want to write about. This time I’m going to talk about excavation.
Sometimes the blank page/screen/mind is just so daunting. No matter how much you stare, it just stares back at you. Laughing, most likely.
What then? Sometimes you can stare it down and push on, but sometimes pushing won’t get you anywhere except blanker and more frustrated. Sometimes you need to try something different.
I’m a big believer in the random, and in the things your mind will do when you’re not paying attention. The connections it will draw, if you give it the chance. And there’s a whole bunch of literary techniques to help get you out of your regular way of thinking and throw something up that you never would have thought of consciously.
See what I did there? Your mind, throwing up. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good brain upchuck.
And that’s where blackout poetry and book carving come in.
Blackout poetry is just what it sounds like: take a page of somebody else’s words and black most of them out, until all that’s left are your words, your poem or story. You’d be surprised at what you can find in the most mundane of news stories.
Book carving is the same, only a little more involved. You actually cut out most of the words on the page, so you’re looking through to the next page. It throws up (bleargh) all kinds of crazy things. The most notable recent example is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes (there on the right) where he took one of his childhood favourites and cut through it to create a new story.
So. Feeling adventurous? Get a magazine or newspaper, get a texta, and go crazy. There’s something in there that only you can find.
Or if you’re feeling really bold and/or sacrilegious (and believe me, it’s hard to cut your first book), go pick up 50 cents worth of pulp from the dump bin up the back of Vinnies, and carve yourself a masterpiece.