01 August 2012


"The one discipline you need in the first draft: to follow where anger, or delight, or laughing take you."
(Carol Bly, The Passionate and Accurate Story)

The one discipline needed of any artist is to follow—themselves. This is also the one discipline that requires the most vigilance and courage.

The way of the artist is unpaved. Each artist must make their own path through terrain known only to them. Vigilance is required as many editors, critics and audiences ask you to be, see, write, and feel something you cannot. They then ask you to create from this space, a space that negates you and your vision.

When you experience a person's art you follow them, and the choices they've made. In writing I've heard it say you follow their breath. As you shape the words, reading out loud or even in your mind's ear, you pause and shape the words they've laid before you.

When working, writing, I follow the voices. They come to me and I scramble behind. I've always respected them and devoted, to them, my full attention. I'm not sure I follow anger, delight or laughter, but I've learned to work without an immediate knowledge of direction. Sometimes, when I write, I think this is crazy. I'm cannot write this. If I wasn't destined for hell, I am now—with this chapter I have made my fate certain. During those moments vigilance is required—hush now—keep writing. And I do. In this way the writing asks more of me than I thought I was capable of giving, revealing aspects I had never considered. I've learned to let my idea of the work go and listen.

Like Coltrane I practice everyday, aware that scales (reading and writing, speaking and listening) keep me agile of mind and spirit. Creating requires agility, endurance, and strength.

(In the history of Jazz men and Blues men)
"Who had to find their voices, and not be echoes.
Who had to have a vision, not just a stand.
And in the end, had to be true to themselves.
Because all imitation is suicide.
All emulation is a sign of an adolescent mind.

All of us imitate.
All of us emulate.
But the ones who love us,
the way Monk loved Coltrane,
you don't need to imitate. . .
go on and find your voice
(Cornell West)

"It's all about the choices "
(Terrance Blanchard)

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