A Constant Renewal of Attempts
Rob and I have often talked about how neither of us were the best in our university classes. What we were though, is persistent.
I continue to dip into What’s the Story by Anne Bogart. In her chapter on “Limits” she talks about how Mick Jagger and Keith Richards sing “wrongly” or as “off-pitch as achievable without becoming unbearably off-key to the listener.” This is what makes their music so recognizable. She goes on: “These days the music industry corrects singers’ pitches technologically with software designed to smooth out any off-key notes…”
She also says:
“Young artists often look to forge a personal signature. But ultimately a personal signature evolves from the constant renewal of attempts, a return to the drawing board, rather than an enforced, imposed style. Perhaps the ubiquitous corporate, consumer culture encourages artists to obsess about their style and the development of a brand. In the light of this pressure, I try instead to concentrate on the immersion, the process and the attention to craft, all of which eventually reveal styles that I could never have imagined before.”
Anne Bogart also notes that “the very best artists pass through countless styles.” Think Picasso, think Cezanne.
I wonder how much is being filtered out of our writing, before we even come to the page? I wonder what publishers today would think of Clarice Lispector’s distinct style. Virginia Woolf? What can we do as writers to develop and then guard our unique off-kilter ways?
I don’t want to limit myself. I want to write in whatever genre calls me, and I don’t want to work on my “brand.” My brand can take care of itself. I want to constantly renew my creativity in attempts, and tries, and blunders, and anonymity.
I want to sing off-pitch. I want to be off-kilter and weird.
I’m in quite a good spot for that possibility at present. I have no books even close to being ready for publication, though I am currently writing a novel and just started a book of essays. Or so I think. The other day I almost had a poem look into me, but I’m not getting too excited about that quite yet. This all means, though, that I can be alone with my writing and wait for things to reveal themselves to me in their own time. I can let the writing be as weird as it likes. This is a gift.
And you, what are you attempting these days?