Write, Read, Rinse, Repeat

I read a stimulating article, via my writers’ group, from the New York Times “Writers On Writing” series by the American author, literary theorist and political activist, Susan Sontag called:

“Directions: Write, Read, Rewrite. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 as Needed.”

She starts out by stating:

Reading novels seems to me such a normal activity, while writing them is such an odd thing to do. . . . At least so I think until I remind myself how firmly the two are related.

I agree with Ms. Sontag. Her article prompted me to analyze ~ and put into words ~ my creative writing/reading interrelatedness and why i am addicted to being a writer.

Writing is – definitely – my cocktail (drug) of choice.

when i write and read, and re-write and re-read, it is intoxicating.
the act of writing, to me, is imbibing the spirits
the act of reading what i wrote, gives me the buzz.
so i write/drink more and then read/buzz more…
this cleanses my mind, my spirit.
i don’t mind that writing is addicting.
i am addicted to reading (my works and others), too.

Sontag says:

Losing yourself in a book, the old phrase, is not an idle fantasy but an addictive, model reality. Virginia Woolf famously said in a letter, “Sometimes I think heaven must be one continuous unexhausted reading.” Surely the heavenly part is that — again, Woolf’s words — “the state of reading consists in the complete elimination of the ego. Unfortunately, we never do lose the ego, any more than we can step over our own feet. But that disembodied rapture, reading, is trancelike enough to make us feel ego-less. Like reading, rapturous reading, writing fiction — inhabiting other selves — feels like losing yourself, too.

This reminds me of something one of my favorite writers wrote in one of her many journals:

We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection. ~{Anaïs Nin}~

I started journaling and writing poetry when i was seven or eight years old.
I came to another realization, when i read what Sontag noted (parenthetically) in the article: “(Poets live by the ear much more than prose writers do).”

when i was a kid, i felt so much more freedom writing my prose than my poetry.
i would rarely edit my poetry.
i was afraid i wouldn’t be able to keep it pure, and spontaneous, that i would lose those angels who whispered it to me. i had to trust the hushed words of these special angels.
i did feel more expressive and free when writing my short stories, tho.
i would write and write and write in a long flow of consciousness, unconsciousness, via my faeries who whispered to me. then i would go back to read and to edit these whispers, knowing that my freaky little faeries were fleeting beings that needed to be tamed and managed – because they often misguided humans with their spontaneous ramblings and dubious murmurings. but i was grateful they spoke quietly to me, nonetheless.

Sontag reveals:

What I write about is other than me. As what I write is smarter than I am. Because I can rewrite it. My books know what I once knew, fitfully, intermittently. And getting the best words on the page does not seem any easier, even after so many years of writing. On the contrary.
Here is the great difference between reading and writing. Reading is a vocation, a skill, at which, with practice, you are bound to become more expert. What you accumulate as a writer are mostly uncertainties and anxieties.

This last sentence is extremely thought-provoking. Because for me, i don’t accumulate as much uncertainty and anxiety now that i am writing more.  It seems that is a personal issue.

Her next paragraph reflects this:

All these feelings of inadequacy on the part of the writer — this writer, anyway — are predicated on the conviction that literature matters. Matters is surely too pale a word. That there are books that are “necessary,” that is, books that, while reading them, you know you’ll reread. Maybe more than once. Is there a greater privilege than to have a consciousness expanded by, filled with, pointed to literature?

Book of wisdom, exemplar of mental playfulness, dilator of sympathies, faithful recorder of a real world (not just the commotion inside one head), servant of history, advocate of contrary and defiant emotions . . . a novel that feels  necessary can be, should be, most of these things.

I wonder and I ask You:

Do you accumulate uncertainties and anxieties as a writer? and Why?

As i mentioned, among other things, i am quite addicted to being a writer.
it intoxicates me and satiates me while i am writing… time is not linear for me, when i enter this otherworldly dimension. i am in my “over-focus” mode, where i see the whole story/picture from above,like a road-map, and it so incredible to choose the many routes i will take to get there.

and afterwards, when i come down from the high, this creating, this cleansing,
and i actually see what i have done, i repeat the cycle again.


wow, i just got a “buzz” now.

Recommended Reading-»Writing Materials-2010 (photo by sarah nean bruce)


7 responses to “Write, Read, Rinse, Repeat

  1. I get anxious and unsure sometimes when I write, mostly because I think I might forget what it was I wanted to reitierate or share. My “fairies” come to me too…but they whisper quickly and sometimes a bit incoherently…then they go and leave me to decipher their messages! I worry when I think I’m not getting it the down the way they told me!

    I think it’s totally intoxicating too…writing, reading, rinsing. What a great way to get high, huh?!?! Thanks for the reminder…I will do it more!!!

  2. While I find writing quite gratifying artistically, the process for me is most arduous. It always begins with an idea that won’t go away. Translating that idea onto the page can be difficult, even painful. But once I’ve started I have to finish or the idea will torment me until it’s fully realized(usually as a screenplay).

    • yes, i think we are talking about the same thing ~ that addiction we have to writing (i think if i was obsessive/compulsive my passion/addiction might become deleterious). your writing passion / addiction (angel / demon) calls to you in a different manner – and you must do it, you must exorcise it. many people hear their creative demon/angel but they don’t have the wherewithal to get it out of their head and onto the page or onto the screen… we are blessed that we can (and that it coheres artistically). however joyous or painful, our process is basically the same – passion, pain, love/hate, it’s definitely emotion and definitely not mechanical (altho the writing tools/rules are)… the essence is truly artistic and creative! … of course, that’s just my opinion. thanks for sharing christopher, i have missed your wit and intellect and passion!!! xoxo~sb PS-happy 10th anniversary of us making our film, too

      • I know, 10 years, hard to believe. If I think about it to much I get a little depressed. I’m working with a new group of investors now who hopefully will pony up a budget for me to make one of my two new screenplays. In the mean time I’ve gotten back into acting and I’ve had the opportunity to do three plays in the last year. Last month I had a run as Jack Tanner in Man & Superman by George Bernard Shaw. I’ve also directed four one acts as well with the same theatre group I’m a member of. My agent is trying to put together a deal for me to direct a play about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. His strategy is to open it up Off Off Broadway, then take it Off Broadway, then produce it as a indie feature film. We’ll see.

        I miss you too. Congrats on “Yesterday Was a Lie” Keep writing!!!

  3. Reading this makes me want to write creatively or journal more often. I used to be very passionate about writing and then somewhere I lost that fire. I became overcritical of my own writing. Thanks for always inspiring me Sarah!

  4. “I had to trust the hushed words of these special angels”
    Hey! I resemble that remark. I can relate, Sarah.
    I enjoy yr work here. And yr film should arrive from Netflix with the noonday stage. Thanx G.R.

  5. Pingback: Gathering Angels (Evading Dust) « sarah nean bruce·

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