Wednesday, 5 September 2012

13 Tips for a Writing Friend (After Benjamin, Baudelaire, etc)

24th July 20..

Dear R.,

You seem to be nowhere near an 'eternal middle' at the moment - rather in a new era of freedom and writing.  We are very happy for you.  It doesn't seem to be a consolation prize - when you return in a year's time with your book(s) in your valise they will be sure to promote you! Perhaps you are right about Vienna - and we turned ourselves into Viennese at least to the degree that we want to leave it - although we were never really there.  I have never considered Bernhard as a theme although I like his writing - still haven't read Wittgenstein's Neffe, which you recommended, and all the other Bernhards about Wittgenstein.  I hope to do so someday.  P. suggested a title of a hypothetical piece about Bernhard - "Ways Out of Bad Fitting Trousers".

I was very flattered that you asked me!? about writing tips.  Of course I have a whole arsenal of paraphrased wisdoms from the greats which I can't resist passing on to you - although you probably know them already.  My eternal quest for the writing routine has turned into an endless routine of no routine except shameful postponement, procrastination and occasional maniacal bouts of activity.  Here is my random medley of writings tips:

1.  Seduce yourself into your work. (Francis Bacon the painter)
2.  Lies are always necessary. (Baudelaire)
2a.  Es muß nicht alles logisch sein. (Not everything has to be logical.) (Galetti - Swiss clown)
2b.  S’muß nit immer emes sein. (It doesn’t always have to be true.) (Yiddish folk wisdom)
3.  Don't be afraid of getting lost - it is the thrill of the unknown, the surest sign of progress.  Every footstep a labyrinth. (Kafka - sort of)
4.  Jump right in - don't worry about broken glass. (Kafka - apocryphal) 
5.  Nulla dies sine linea! (No day without a line!) (Büchmann, orthodox)
6.  A writer is like a general with more than one front - whereby the second, third front seem to turn mysteriously into the front line. (Proust)
7.  6 days in a row of hard work per week - that's the source of inspiration. (Baudelaire, orthodox)
7a.  A good writer never says more than he thinks. (Hemingway, ultra- orthodox)
8.  Cocteau's rule of simplicity: a specific way of thinking (not saying), a limited vocabulary, limited number of questions which you never stop asking, a unique perspective - be like a fly swatter
9.  Don't forget the mind of the beginner. (Zeami - Noh playwright)
10.  The innate 'taste for infinity' means the 'grace' of lucidity sometimes comes not as a result of a sensible hygiene - but after debauches of the spirit (melancholy - hysteria of the spirit), bad thoughts, overdrawing one's account of nerves and spleen - leaving you limp and unable to resist inspiration. This is unearned happiness. (Baudelaire etc)
11.  Be capable of extraordinary addictions and extraordinary moderation. (Cocteau)
12.  Be moved by many things so as to be moved by one thing.
(Robert Walser)
13.  Jedes Kunstwerk ist eine abgedungene Untat. (Every work of art is a bartered crime.) (Adorno)

So with these magic formulas I send you all the angelic guidance needed for your auspicious writing enterprise.

It would be nice to see you too.  What about the Golden Horn - at a café on the Galata Bridge for sweet tea and keyif and all the invited and uninvited ghosts (Trotsky, de Nerval, Sabbatai Sevi, ‘The Neighbor’ and the apopotraic Baynes…) in Istanbul late October?

Warm regards from P. and from me of course,

© Shannee Marks, September 2012

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