What Inspires You? The Writing Process Blog Tour

The wind blows out candleThe Writing Process Blog Tour came to me through writer/performer/artist Annie Lanzillotto and it came to her through Angel Eduardo, who came up with the idea. If chain letters were truly rewarding and fun, the BlogTour would be it!

I first met Annie Lanzillotto at the end of the 20th century (living in the 21st century, we can say that now!). I was reading in an event that Annie organized at The Kitchen called “The Global Poetry Slam”. While I’m not much of a slammer (I have only won one slam, ever, and by two tenths of a point), what Annie was doing at the time was really unique – it was one of the earliest examples of poetic/technical convergence ever. At the center of our stage was a big digital screen and a poet performed live from Europe or South America or someplace far away like that; simultaneously a real-time digital translator was on stage to the right of the screen and New York poets read their work live, one of them being Regie Cabico, ’93 Grand Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. It was a multimedia extravaganza but that’s really the best way to describe Annie and the work she does. While she regularly travels with a posse and loyal fans, all by herself she’s a poetic luminary who comes with a variety of vivid colors to choose from: prose, poetry, theater, music, performance art, visuals. Once you see one, you’ll want to collect ’em all! Check out her blogspot at: http://annielanzillotto.blogspot.com

The Blog Tour questions and my answers:
1. What are you working on?
An essay on the word “lightworker”; a book of poems; cleaning up all the archives I’ve amassed when I had a big studio space which are both written and visual. I think it will depress me to see how many projects I’m in the middle of and yet have not finished. Right now, I’m working on creating some order from the chaos and lighting the candle within.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
If it is different, it’s because of what I hold dear to my heart which would be the following:
God: Even without a preconceived idea of what “God” is, I am devoted to what is Divine in the world and have been since childhood. I feel pretty confident that the idea of God we have been shown is totally, absolutely incorrect and has led the world down a very difficult and negative path. And I think I was a saint in childhood but no one knew it. Also, I’m on an ongoing journey to discover what divinity might look like in New York City. (Don’t be fooled by the concrete; angels live here too!)
Media influence: I am an artistic cross-dresser…I love to play in video, graphic design, poetry, photography, the shape of words on the page, performance, recitation; but also enjoy playing around with my 3D collections of stuff, like postcards, rubber stamps, Tarot Cards, wine corks etc.
Personal history and geography: Italian American working-class family with little patience for artifice and phony smiles; Brooklyn New York…my home, and the home for those with little patience for artifice and phony smiles.

3. Why do you write what you do?
The process of doing it feels better than anything else I have ever done in my life, maybe except for dancing. When I’m writing, I feel like I have always belonged to something and something has always belonged to me.

4. How does your writing process work?
My writing process is my creative process, and it is not pretty. It is not neat, not terribly organized, but I love it and I love what comes out of it even if no one else does.

My personal writing process comes from my heart and has always followed (whether consciously or not) something Jack Kerouac wrote a long time ago, called “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose” a list of 30 “things to do when you write”. Here are a few of my favorites from his list:
Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
– Submissive to everything, open, listening
Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
– Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

I trust the initial process which doesn’t always mean I end up with a piece of writing I want to share with the world, but that I always end up with writing that I care about.

Have recently re-read a book called “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland who was born at the end of the 19th century and it couldn’t be more modern, heartfelt and practical. I would recommend it to all the writers I know, and those of you out there who are “writers in the closet” too.

So there are lots of different kinds of writing and one process won’t work for all of them. I love to write essays about specific world/culture topics and I loved writing research papers when I was in Grad School. This type of process is more “scientific” in that I want my sources and references to be lined up in a row somewhere; and initially there may even be too many of them. I have an internal sense of what I am trying to get across, so I have created an outline as well. My favorite part of this particular writing process is the research; looking through, checking out, being surprised or not. If I had a preconceived idea before I get through all the research, it may change and become something else entirely. This is an easy way to surprise yourself and I really like to do it.

The next writers on my Blogroll are:
John M. Farrell (writer, performer, director) http://johnbeshaw-farrell.com/
Louise Smith (performer, writer, artist, Dean of Students, Antioch College) https://www.facebook.com/louise.smith.900?fref=ts
Erica Cardwell (artist and youth activist) http://theomnivorous.blogspot.com/