Saturday, September 03, 2011

"Why Do You Write?"

By James Curcio.
I've gotten this one in interviews in the past. Everything I said there was a lie. Let me answer it truthfully: 

I no longer write for you, to get finger claps in Cafes or "Likes" on Facebook. I no longer write to be understood. I don't do it for fame for fortune, because who are we kidding? It's public, but only like flashing your genitals in a subway car is public.

I write to momentarily get rid of myself, to get a little more distance, to intellectualize the gnawing in my stomach or ringing in my ears. I like us all a little better when we've been turned to symbols. It's an Other-ing that makes it all more bearable. Sometimes it can even get us a little high, though those are also the worst times, the benders where the words hurt you the next morning and you're a stranger to yourself. Then the words are like pans crashing and clattering to the ground, lolling around like Murakami's kittens, and even more words spill out to enclose that noise with comfortable silence. Signal and noise can flip end over end, but that's subject for another day. That buzzing in my head is already drowning it all out--
"Memory is like fiction; or else it's fiction that's like memory. This really came home to me once I started writing fiction, that memory seemed a kind of fiction, or vice versa. Either way, no matter how hard you try to put everything neatly into shape, the context wanders this way and that, until finally the context isn't even there anymore. You're left with this pile of kittens lolling all over one another. Warm with life, hopelessly unstable. And then to put these things out as saleable items, you call them finished products - at times it's downright embarrassing just to think of it. Honestly, it can make me blush."
— Haruki Murakami 
You're only a writer when you don't know why you do it anymore, eventually there's nothing else but the lie that tells the truth. You're a writer the way a junky is a junky. It's got little if nothing to do with anything else. If you're still talking about "writer's block" and wordcounts, there might still be hope for you. Turn back. Kick the habit.

I don't write for you to come with me. We don't need writing for that.

But since I have your attention, I've started working on my new book ...

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]


  1. You write to get rid of yourself? Almost sounds like writing allows you to momentarily transcend your ego. :)

  2. Words, words, words...

  3. My comment was tongue-in-cheek, but as I think about it, was it really wrong? Couldn't the "small high" or the captivated but focussed mind of the creative artist be fairly described as a respite from the monotony of conventional consciousness? I think you may be more fluent about transcendence then you let on.

  4. No, you're spot on. They talk about this sort of thing in Zen and the art of (...).

    However, the thing that in general characterizes Zen as opposed to other forms of Buddhism is precisely this idea of immanence - embodied in life, in us, in this moment - as opposed to transcendence.

    So it might seem like a pretty minor semantic distinction, but the the idea of "flow" (which is really what I'm talking about, when you take the sarcasm/irony out) is the point behind most activities like drumming, dancing, painting, cooking, writing ... when you get down to it-- I wouldn't call it transcendent.

    And by "the point" I mean both "the reason" as well as the idea behind one-pointed meditation. Happy you got the point of this piece, aside from that joke at the end and the wordplay behind "come," I'm talking about flow, which is both purposed and purpose-less.



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