The Art of Jim

 

Jim Harrison, photographed by Andy Anderson

Andy Anderson Photography

The great loss of Jim Harrison this past Saturday has had me rooting for words. I dug through his old interviews and pored over passages from The Raw and the Cooked and The Beast God Forgot to Invent, whetting my appetite to write often and write well.

But more than that, reading Jim aroused in me what lately feels like my most primal need — to find fulfillment in a good day’s labor. I don’t know about you, but for me, as a manager, producer, coordinator for the corporate machine, some days it seems impossible to find meaning.

Not for Jim. He wrote every word, performed every task with pure purpose. You can’t mistake the career goals of a fisherman, a well-digger or a slow-cooked goose cassoulet, is all I’m saying.

This interview from The Paris Review in 1986 had me transfixed. Captured over five intoxicating days at Jim’s lush farm in Leelanau County, Michigan, the lengthy exchange touches playfully yet purposefully on Jim’s technique, philosophy and history.

It’s a long but worthwhile read. If you can’t sit down to the whole thing, here are a few choice bits that spoke to me. Continue reading

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