Friday, June 18, 2010

Practice into Process

Unless you begin with a specific topic in mind, often merely an energizing word, your approach is to start with a list of random words, writing them down in a list as they come straggling in like kids at play,reluctantly heeding the call to dinner, wondering at first if there is some linking pattern between these words you have not yet divined. Depending on what sort of day this has been, sooner or later one of the words will land with a particularly loud thunk, like a baseball hitting the sweet spot on a bat. The sound of the word falling into place signals all at once the arrival of energy, intent, and purpose.


Now the momentum shifts into a higher gear, thanks to the sound of the inherent voice, at once beguiling and commanding; it is the perfect combination of force. Ideas are easily come by--until you want them, at which point you are in competition with parts of yourself dominated by judgement instead of those parts of yourself led by curiosity and playfulness. Playing with words in this manner is of a piece with a musician running scales, developing dexterity of execution and a sense of humor. You learn from practice what a sense of humor is, which is laughing at the judgmental parts of yourself.

As the scales provide a trampoline for the musician, playing with words provides the energy, intent, and purpose that provide you with paragraphs of meaning and with characters to carry those burdens forward as though they were lading the hold of a transport such as a story or an essay.

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