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The stuff within the thing

Jul 05,2013
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File 15550Last 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. 

File 15547

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.

Jul 08,2013

Agreed, it's one of those things I've seen other people do and thought about trying myself but never got around to it. I was looking around for newspapers today but it turns out the only ones we have in the house are... not in English. And I don't think I could do that to a book, even if didn't care much for it. It seems so disrespectful :/ Or, like ambivalence said, maybe it's bold. It reminds me a bit of those carving/sculpture things people do with books, and I'm torn between thinking how wonderful it looks and feeling sorry for the book. ^^

Jul 08,2013

Not sure about carrying a marker around at all times - sounds dangerous! (And how would you resist correcting all those signs with bad spelling and wrong grammar? - too tempting!) And you know, for all my talk, I've never actually done a full book carve myself. I HAVE broken the taboo and cut some up for collage, but it was a wrench, there's no denying that.... 

Jul 07,2013

Ohhhh, I really do want to do this - I've seen it before. But I guess it's one of those things I just file away on the 'I Really Should Do That' shelf in my brain, and you know, even if circumstance provides me with a newspaper or something, I just don't think of doing it. Perhaps I ought to purposefully carry a black marker or pen around more often x) As for the cutting from books one, gosh, I literally am torn between thinking it's sacreligious and bold o.O It looks amazing and fun, but I don't think I could do it, no matter how old or even lousy the story may be, in my opinion.... ^_^ Have you done any you could share?

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