Figs

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

.,’.:.

Beautiful punctuation posters by Adam J. Calhoun. I love looking at Faulkner this way, as though he left us a code to unlocking his characters’ consciousness.

Punctuation in Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (left) and in Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (right). By Adam J. Calhoun

Punctuation in Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (left) and in Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (right).  By Adam J. Calhoun.

via: Punctuation in novels on Medium.

Negative Space

The negative space of writing — what we do when we’re not writing — is probably just as important, if not more, than the act of writing itself.

Which I suppose is one reason why writers are so notoriously tormented. Even the smallest decisions — what color to paint my nails, how to eat my eggs — always seem to paralyze me.

Loving this piece by Ingrid Rojas Contreras in Electric Literature about fretting over the many ways everyday minutia can impact the quantity and quality of your output. (See her chart below.)

Writing Output by Breakfast Types, by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Ingrid Rojas Contreras

“All the hours I spend in the back of my throat, flexing my tongue, agonizing in unwritten sentences—is that writing?”

Food for thought.

via: On Not Writing: An Illustrated Guide to My Anxieties by Ingrid Rojas Contreras in Electric Literature

The Armless, Legless Man

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” — Kurt Vonnegut

Via Bill Cotter’s 10 Famous Writers Who Hated Writing

She Came to Slay

Grateful for voices like that of Dr. Zandria Robinson and for women who write, profess and educate. Grateful that her words reached me, and that she and Beyoncé and a whole formation of black, female voices will not stop challenging me to read more deeply, listen more closely and hear the experience of someone who is not just like me.

Beyonce - Formation - YouTube

Beyonce/YouTube

Be sure to read Dr. Robinson’s spirited and inspired piece on New Southern NegressWe Slay, Part I, or her Rolling Stone essay on “Formation” and how Beyoncé’s video is both a tribute to “southern blackness” and a rallying cry for the marginalized.

And just look at this electric sentence:

‘Formation’ is an homage to and recognition of the werk of the ‘punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens‘ in these southern streets and parking lots, in these second lines, in these chocolate cities and neighborhoods, in front of these bands and drumlines.

Writers

As a young child Audrey Carsons wanted to be writers because writers were rich and famous. They lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in a yellow pongee silk suit. They sniffed cocaine in Mayfair and they penetrated forbidden swamps with a faithful native boy and lived in the native quarter of Tangier smoking hashish and languidly caressing a pet gazelle.

— William S. Burroughs, The Lemon Kid

What’s in a Jot?

“Take this down, Smee.” – Captain Hook.

Jots are snippets of writing. They can be long or short, finished or unfinished, spontaneous or planned.

When you keep replaying a painful conversation in your head, jot it down.

When you’re scarred by the image of a subway pigeon pecking at a chicken bone, go ahead and jot that down, too.

When your Great Aunt Lena regales you with tales of how tough it was working on a farm in Italy as a young girl — well, you get the idea.

Just get it down.

How To Be a (Person Who is Alive)

“if the opposite of a “pure” or “high-minded” man is one who is “alive,” then isn’t that what he is accusing her of being? A woman who is, simply, alive?”

Sharing one of a number of delightful femlit¹ pieces I’ve read recently challenging the word “slut” — a cheap word that, like its “good twin” the virgin, exists solely to put women in their place.

The author, Tara Ison, also skewers pop culture flicks for perpetuating this useless, dichotomous thinking when it comes to women and monogamy.

via How To Be A Slut: The Choices and Priorities of a Promiscuous Woman, and No, You Do Not Complete Me in Electric Literature.

¹Is this a term? I’m going to keep using it.

1.

The Jot is my process. It’s about letting my work be in progress so long as I’m doing the work.

It’s also about focus. So while I’m practicing wordplay and storytelling, I’ll also be feeding my brain with content that keeps my writing muscle lean, and sharing that here, too.

Naturally, you can expect some muddled, ugly paragraphs and more than a few botched “jots.” But hopefully, somewhere in there, you’ll also find a word or two that resonates — something that makes you stroke your beard or your double chin and say, “Huh.”

Welcome to The Jot.