The Wild Wind

Friday, 28 January 2011

Over the past several months I have been watching a man writing a short story online.  About 35 hours worth of viewing, all told, and I'm not even halfway through it yet.  Night after night, back in 2001, he was filmed as he wrote a story from scratch, not knowing where it was going as he went, writing live.  A most brave act.

The story was based on a postcard, a Kodak Brownie photo taken by an unnamed 1913 American of a man in an airplane.  On the back, they had written, "This is Earl Sandt of Erie PA in his aeroplane just before it fell."  This is all he used to begin his story.

I have been downloading the episodes from iTunes and watching them on TV.  I have found, with my limited concentration levels, that if I watch them online on the computer screen I will find the pace too slow, and I will drift off after a while, multi-tasking even though it's naff and stupid and makes me anxious - playing Bejeweled Blitz or something equally hyper, and missing the point entirely.

There is a slow aspect to writing, to creativity.  Sitting on the couch, being forced to sit as he ponders, goes backwards and forwards, enters me into that meditative sort of a space that the computer steals away.  Sitting on the couch, I doodle and draw as he is writing, and come up with the next thing I plan on making with clay. Sitting on the couch as he writes, or backtracks, or comes up out of his "trance" (a slightly pompous sort of a term to use in my opinion for what should be, when we're not revved too high, the natural state of things) to try to explain the mysterious and unexplainable.

I have recently been watching season one of Dead Like Me, a deliciously dark and cynical TV series which aired over two seasons back in 2003/2004.  The main character, George, is undead, a reaper.  She collects the souls of dearly-departed ones who meet a variety of ends.  None of their ends so far have been as glorious as hers - dead at the hands of a toilet seat from the Mir space station falling out of the air and ending her incarnation at the age of 19.

Last night I cracked open a book called The Book Thief.  You know that feeling when you realise you're falling in love with a 500-page book and you are only 15 pages in?  That feeling fills me up so I don't feel like I need to eat as much junk food.

It bubbles up into multicolour inside my head when little synchronicities strike in my world.  The book's narrator is a grim reaper.  The main character of the book sees someone die at the wheel of an airplane, 20 years and a continent away from the short story I am watching.  Completely unimportant little synchronicities in terms of the world but to me, a pulsing of that golden thread that I feel like runs through it, all the mysteries and darknesses and deep unknowns that still keep me feeling that even if I were to know everything there was to know, I could never quite pin down some ineffables.

When I am watching Robert Olen Butler write his short story, it is to try to understand just a little more that deep mysterious process, those things that bubble up from the subconscious, or the unconscious, or the superconscious, or whatever the fuck conscious is it.  I want to understand it all a little better, if I may.

But I am cautious, too.  Because to understand it means to break it down into small little parcels, portions, nicely categorised inside the part of me that is most dull and dreary.  The part that is fearful and wants to know ahead of time everything that is going to occur before I agree to it.  But the wild child wants to run screaming into the midst of the wind.  She doesn't want to label it.  She just wants to run in it.


  1. your line - There is a slow aspect to writing, to creativity.

    watched a doco the other night about tim minchin and his creative process after he got famous and he was saying how he was finding it difficult to come up with the clever ideas and writing coz they had previously birthed themselves and grew very slowly over time.

  2. Go with Wild, Sue. You'll not regret it, 'cos it's your true nature:)

  3. Urbanmonk - that must be the awful downside of success. People are so constrained into this crappy box of productivity. YUK.

    MB - it is my true nature indeed :)


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