Pollocking: Lessons in Not Writing

orange and black splotches

Allie Berg, 7/20/2015 on jacksonpollock.org

Not writing. Not-writing. Not!writing. Knot-writing. Knot writing. In knots. In NOTS.

I haven’t felt like blogging the last, I dunno, since I wrote last. Don’t feel like looking how long it’s been either. Because that’s sort of NOT the point. The opposite of the point, if anything. And, that’s not even really true. I’ve wanted to, but I didn’t have anything to say. Anything WORTH saying. Again, NOT the point.

I’ve been spending a lot of my Pollocking time in NOTS this past week. Not the super-bad kind of nots, where it’s like, “you’re not worth anything,”  “you’re not going to amount to anything,” “you’re not really going to write anything.” More like, “I’m not ready,” and “I’m not done researching,” and “I’m not sure where I’m going with this yet,” and “Still reading not writing.”

The bad NOT from this week is “You’re NOT doing this right.” You know, the old, “process of writing” not. Like, “why are you not BICFOK?” (Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard). Or, “J. Michael Straczynski writes 365 days per year, how come you’re not?” “Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Your pits are not wet, my friend.” (That’s a lie, too. It’s hot in here. No A/C and I’m 90% perspiration most days. Or at least the marinade I’m stewing in is.)

So I’m back to working on acceptance. My process is not like other processes. This is why I don’t call it “process” anymore and I call it “Pollocking.” The whole point of this is to try to distance myself from what I “should” do, since that just makes me feel guilty and I don’t get any writing done because I block up from guilt. I’m trying to get away from defining myself and my writing by comparison to others.

Hah. Good luck, there.

Because even as I say that, I’m wondering how anyone can really write every day. When do they do their research? How can they write when the idea is just taking shape? What’s the actual point of making words when the words aren’t really story words and you know they’re not? Sure, once I have a story, I can write every day. Hell, once I have a story, sometimes I have trouble doing anything BUT writing.

But what about when you’re germinating? Is that when you “should” be doing your outlines and character sheets and timelines? Well, that’s fucking well stupid–for me. All that does is make a big mess of data that I’m never going to refer to again. I guess it’s a way to sort the things happening in my head. It’s just…it’s happening in my head.

I think tomorrow, I’m going to try to sit quietly and take notes on my thoughts (I read an article that suggested taking notes this week, but I can’t find it now; boo). Nothing in an actual FORM. Nothing I’m trying to force into shape. Just notes about what I think is neat and where I’m interested in going, and researching. I think I’ll take notes on the books I’m reading, too. Not the research books (although, those, yes, too), but the fiction.

Right now, I’m reading Maureen Ash‘s Templar Knight mysteries set in Medieval Lincoln right around when I want to be writing. She even has two characters (at least) who are likely to be characters in my story!!!! That’s fabulous, because it’s giving me a chance to see how she treats them. And it’s giving me lots of good detail (and research texts!) for my background reading.

At some point, I’ll probably say something about what it is that I’m not!writing, but I’m not ready to do that yet. Instead of figuring out who to pitch it to, who can sell it, how to market it, this time I’m just going to honor my heart and not!write (not!plan, not!market) until I do.

I’d ask questions, like what you do, but that’s kind of the opposite of the point too. I’m curious about how you write, but I’m trying to figure out how I do writing.