Creating a Text – Dick Jones
What phases are involved in the creation of a text?
For me, there is an element of the pursuit of the origin of the golden eggs in the analysis of the creative process of poetry. Much of it is mysterious, seemingly self-generating & self-impelling, & I am hesitant about examining the mechanics by which it comes about. However…
There are many times when the desire & the will to write coalesce & I prepare for the arrival of the inchoate data that will, under management, cohere into text, but then silence follows. Much less frequently, when my attention is elsewhere, almost invariably dealing with the quotidian mundane, a fragmentary phrase or complete sentence will arrive unbidden. It may break away from something overheard or read or it may rise up like a bubble from les bas fonds. Sometimes I am aware that it trails investigative meditation or conversation about a specific topic. Memories of place & time considered in the light of present awareness are commonest sources.
A notebook is always with me night & day & all such arrivals are recorded & dated immediately, pretty much regardless of circumstance. If I have time & space then I listen for more. Initially this must be an entirely passive process. If I look too closely or listen too attentively then, like the dream too swiftly apprehended, the frequency shifts & a sort of tinnitus of white noise prevails. Either that or complete silence.
But with the appropriate quality of attention applied, the initial phrase or sentence may well be followed by others. These may relate directly to the initiator, providing precedent or subsequent context, or they may have no immediately apparent relevance, only coming into focus much later in the creation of text.
Two common circumstances for such unprovoked arrivals are driving alone in the car or being in the company of many others but not in communication with them – alone in a crowd, as it were. In practical terms, the latter conditions are obviously more favourable, but I have on occasion found myself scribbling frantically at traffic lights or having to pull over to record what is arriving – sometimes in abundance – before it turns to vapour!
From these beginnings, poems will grow. But there is no predicting the speed of the process nor can there be any forcing of the pace. Occasionally a poem will extrapolate from its point of creation immediately & an entire poem will arrive at the pace of the writing. Much more frequently it will grow piecemeal over time &, as a result, I will find myself moving between several poems, some growing towards completion steadily, others stalling, sometimes for months, occasionally for years.
I seldom revise immediately & when revision does take place there is rarely any substantial recasting of original form & content. Sometimes revision will only occur years after the original draft. Nothing is ever finished.
I am interested in the processes of creativity, but eschew analysis in favour of mystery. As a non-believer in the divine, I must either blunder around, tormented by the chaotic inexplicability of existence, subscribe to the prosaic certainty that everything sentient is driven by a compound of chemistry & electricity or pass through `the cloud of unknowing’ in a sense of wonder. With my writing as with my existence in general, I settle happily for the latter.
Dick Jones is a poet. You can find him at: http://patteran.typepad.com/