Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Process of Production Guest Post from Nath Jones

The Process of Production
by Nath Jones

A friend of mine is a bona fide success. So. I asked him, “What is that? Success? What do you do?”
He said, “I’m not smarter than anybody else. I don’t work harder than anybody else. I just finish things.”
Man. Finish things. Yeah that probably does make a difference, doesn’t it? So. After this conversation with him, I set about the business of polishing some of the writing projects I’d started. And. It really wasn’t that hard to get a few things done. I finished three books in about a year and a half:

The War is Language: 101 Short Works 
2000 Deciduous Trees: Memories of a Zine 
Love & Darts - Stories 
How to Cherish the Grief-Stricken (coming soon)

These are the first three books in a four-book series On Impulse. I’m interested in why we have this urge to tell our stories. In many ways the storytelling impulse is a damnable grace. So. I took some time to explore it from catharsis to craft. The first book is raw and experimental. The last, which will come out next year, is more what you’d expect a traditional collection of literary short stories to be.

Success is all well and fine. Finishing things is great, in theory. But. In the day-to-day grind, how often do we finish a book? There may be no more rare occurrence.

With writing, there is so rarely a sense of accomplishment. The projects never seem finished. So. What’s to be done in the meantime? How on earth does anyone keep writing, especially when we’ve been so conditioned to instant gratification?

Books take years. Short stories can take as long or longer. And. Just because you finish a piece doesn’t mean it will get published; just because it gets published doesn’t mean it will be read. And sales? What? Whatever. So, for me, I really had to develop a gratifying production process for traction through all the ups and downs, ins and outs of this work that so many of us love most.

I provide access to my writing process. I thought about my friend’s father. He makes pizzas in front of a window in our hometown. So. I adapted that model for my Facebook author page. And. I write books in public. To me, it’s a comment on artistic accountability, on solidarity with workers, and on our insistence for corporate transparency. Because how many of us are really open about what we do?

With all the social media changes, the process writing will migrate to a notebook on my author page. It will become less of a comment on what the pre-set forms of Facebook and Twitter do to a cogent train of thought.

But being transparent about how the work is progressing is a challenge. It’s often an embarrassment. Because many days there is very little progress and I am not always accountable to my goals made in the morning. But. Over time it works. It helps me keep going. I really appreciate being part of the community as a working writer instead of feeling cut-off from others in my solitary hermitage.

The work is what it is. The process writing I share on my author page is what would normally go into a pile of spiral bound notebooks. I objectify all those thoughts and emotions that are the raw material for my work.
The result is an unpresentable hodgepodge: Quiet rumination. Brainstorms. Proving grounds for disparate ideas. Character sketches. Perspectives on conflict, on culture. Pontification. Book reviews. Reaction. Response. Planning. I have board meetings where various departments of the enterprise come and make presentations. It’s absurd since I’m the one doing everything. But it’s entertaining. I dabble in different styles, different voices, various kinds of syntax. And. Sometimes the author page is a text that captures the pure joy of life. Because writing on Facebook can curate both real-time and transience in a way that finished books and stories cannot.

In this way, the meta-narrative scaffolding that surrounds and supports a piece of writing can come out of the text. Postmodern play has a space on the author page and the work can stand alone without those distractions that call attention to the writer. Also, and at the same time, those narcissistic tendencies call social media into question. Because certainly we all make choices in how we represent ourselves online. And. Where there is choice, there is fiction.
The War is Language: 101 Short Works:

2000 Deciduous Trees: Memories of a Zine:

Love& Darts – Stories:

On Impulse:

Facebook author page:
author page:

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