Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Each Creation Invents Its Own Techniques

I recently wrote a letter to one of my mentors, Logodaedalist Madame Zabaletsky. Madame Zabaletsky is a wall of a woman who wears coke-bottle glasses and adorns herself with triumphantly patterned scarves and enormous rings with small insects frozen inside the stones.  She also writes prose with thunderous authority though you might not know it as she only circulates her stories and novels among a small audience of her own selection.  I met her while waiting in line to order at Church's Chicken a few years back, and we have maintained a steady correspondence since.

In my most recent letter to M.Z., I enthusiastically detailed my latest "discovery" about my writing process and must have gone a little overboard with some of my claims. This is what she had to say:
Dear Mr. Driscoll 
Writing a story is always a process of making something you do not yet know how to make. It doesn't matter if you've written a million of them. Each creation requires the invention of its own technique.  If you are looking for some sort of trick or method that will see you through the rest of your writing days you are setting yourself up for disappointment. 
Art is a process of constant technical innovation threaded along a line of self inquiry. This is true of any creative act, so you best get used to it because living your life is a creative act.  Let me say this again so you do not miss it: you must constantly reinvent the tools and forms you use to shape your life if you have any hope to grow. 
I've told you this before and do not doubt that I will have to tell you again. Do not, however, waste your time feeling guilty: your mistakes do not bother me. I have had my teachers just as you will have your students.  This is not something you fully understand yet, so until you do, keep in mind that you'll never know your teachers from your students until it is too late. The best approach then is to try to learn from everyone you know, for that approach is also the highest form of teaching. 
Read the enclosed book. It is my latest. It has no answers in it, but the implied questions will put you in the right frame of mind.  
Madame Zabaletsky
P.S. That Cousin Lars of yours is a dangerous man. You should not encourage him. 
How am I so lucky to have so many wise people telling me what to do?  I hope you found some of Madame Zabaletsky's thoughts useful, and thanks for stopping by.


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  1. M.Z has got her act together!

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