Thursday, June 11, 2009

"The Enthusiastically Sticky zone of the Self-Love Continuum"

A.L. Kennedy on how rehearsing her comedy show feeds back into the writer's "voice" on the page:
It's been fascinating, working on my literal voice again for a while (in order to be audible and flexible) and seeing that work slowly have an effect on the "voice" on the page.

I've always been in favour of writers working with their voices. Although we are usually fugitive creatures, often grating (at best) in person and rambling of tongue – writers (especially poets) will almost inevitably end up reading their work in public for many pressing financial reasons. This will very often involve standing in a space specifically designed to make spoken-word events impossible and to irritate as many of those involved as possible. There will be noise, there will be atrocious sight-lines, there will be non-functioning mikes, there will be wild pigs in the foyer … you simply have to accept that nothing will run smoothly. Meanwhile, as the writer, you have to make the experience as nice as possible for the ladies and gentlemen (I never like kiddies to hear my versions of adult life in case they become disheartened and go all Tin Drum and stunted) who have turned out for the event – who may even have paid money for it to happen at them. This is not only polite, it's also deeply practical.

If a writer can experience their words being enjoyed by others, can make strangers laugh, or go "hmmmmm…" or sigh, or cry, or clap, or sit, alarmingly, with eyes closed in an attitude of profound concentration, sleep, or death – then the writer can feel more confidence in his or her words and move forward with them. This short-circuits something of that "playing alone with people you made up earlier for the benefit of strangers" aspect of the typing life.
Closing tabs: Stephen Fry on the joys of being a member of English Heritage's blue plaques panel; “If you need cake, eat the cake”; a secret history of the New Criticism and counterintelligence; Levi Stahl on why self-publishing was the perfect choice for Caleb Crain's latest book, a "meatspace edition" of some years' worth of very high-quality blogging (and Caleb gives a direct link with discount); and a delightful piece by one of my favorite sports journalists about the Flowers Sea Swim in Grand Cayman, which I will hope to do next weekend (this weekend, it's the Park to Park 2-mile Hudson River swim - the start is at W. 125th St., less than a mile from my apartment!).

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