During a psychic reading at Hotel Cassadaga, Aylah (who insists she’s a scientist because she is) told me I should start a blog. That was many months ago, and only recently, on a trip to Buenos Aires to scout for our June 2019 MFA of the Americas residency, did the idea for the blog come together. Also, it’s more than a blog. I’ve started an Instagram. There will be videos. But let me back up slightly and lay out what happened and when.
October 28: I went for tea with Marcello Dansey and Guido Ignatti. To their charming flat in Recoleta. We’d met before; they’d been to my house in Los Angeles during the 2015 &Now Festival. We talked and laughed about many things concerning art and life and love, and Marcello said he’s become increasingly mystical. Me too, I exclaimed. Before the night was over, I’d given Marcello a writing prompt for a story he wants to write, but every time he sits down, the mind goes into overdrive. Hypercritical drive. Welcome to a writer’s life, I said. I’ve been tricking my mind into writing for several years now. Also: meditating, practicing mindfulness, pulling cards.
The writing prompt: Write a sentence. One that has a slight summary quality, or that captures the unspoken desire of your character/s. Use each word in that first sentences as the first word in each subsequent paragraph. So if your sentence is nine words long, you’ll eventually have a nine-paragraph story. And the story will also be an explication of the sentence, which runs vertically as well as horizontally.
Example: “A New Writing Friend,” published on The Collagist. (Note: in my story collection, I’ve renamed this piece “What Starts with a Beginning.”)
October 29: I met Eduardo Costa for tea, another 5 pm appointment. We stayed together for 7 hours, talking about love and life and art and mysticism, again. He said: you’re the kind of person who has things (as in signs and energies) come to you. Yes, I agreed. Not because I’m so special; rather, I’ve been training myself to pay attention to that which is always already there. This, to me, is writing. You can do it, too.
November 2: I met Pola Oloixariac at a cafe in Palermo. We talked about writing and publishing, her upcoming visit to our MFA program, and her new weekly column in the newspaper. We talked about blogging and how horrible FB is. We said it’s time to bring back the blog. We laughed and said, Bring back the blog!
November 4: Flying home, I had a layover in Houston. There was a storm, and we had to stop in Austin, refuel and wait for the storm to pass. I missed my first flight and was automatically booked for another. On that one, I shared a row with Kendra and her six-year-old son, Jackson. I am generally not one to talk with strangers on airplanes, but Jackson had many things to tell me, and Kendra started asked what I was reading and why I would periodically make marks in the book. I was reading Savage Theories, Pola’s book. We began talking. Kendra is a life coach. Videos, she said, have made all the difference. She wants to write a book. I gave her a writing prompt (will save that for another post), and we talked about my writing. And then we began mapping this: Process Notes: Writing, Practice, Grow, Repeat.
Writing has changed my life. It’s one of the scariest and most vulnerable things I do. It’s my way of making sense of my experiences. Of being alive and of reading: the world and other creatures, including texts. To me, writing is a spiritual practice. Through writing I have experienced grace.
This then: notes on the process of writing. Writing prompts. From reading and from life. From other writers. Because writing never happens alone.