Daily Archives: November 14, 2008

From Richard Ellmann’s classic JAMES JOYCE-“As regards ULYSSES”

      (As to Joyce’s method of working, Richard Ellmann quotes the author directly: such insight I think not only helps us understand a great author but also gives us ideas about the creative process.  Here are a few examples recorded during the creation of ULYSSES.)

      Joyce: “As regards ULYSSES I write and think and write and think all day and part of the night.  It goes on as it has been going these five or six years.  But the ingredients will fuse unti they have reached a certain temperature.” Ellmann: “His method was to write a series of phrases down, then, as the episode took form, to cross off each one in a different colored pencil to indicate where it might go.  Surprisingly little was omitted, but no one looking at the notesheet could have predicted how the fragments would coalesce.”  p. 416

      Ellmann: “Writing a novel, he (Joyce) said, was like composing music, with same elements involved.  But how can chords or motifs be incorporated in writing?  Joyce answered his own question, ‘A man might eat kidneys in one chapter, suffer from a kidney disease in another, and one of his friends could be kicked in the kidney in another chapter.”  p.436

      Ellmann:  “He (Joyce) hoped, as a rule, not so much to obtain the right answer (he would ask questions to get materal for his writing) from a friend as to stimulate his own imagination.  As he said to Budgen (close friend), ‘Have you ever noticed, when you get an idea, how much I can make of it?’  Since the material of ULYSSES was all human life, every man he met was an authority, and Joyce carried dozens of small slips of paper in his wallet and loose in his pockets to make small notes.  When he had filled up the front and back of these, he continued to write on them diagonally.  At home he would decipher his notes with a magnifying glass, a hint of what he had written being usually enough. ”  p.439

        (Richard Ellmann’s classic biography JAMES JOYCE has been on the top of my must-reread-list for a very long time.  I try to surround myself with the likes of Joyce, hoping I can learn from them.  JAMES JOYCE New and Revised Edition Oxford University Press Copright 1959, 1982 by Richard Ellmann)

        Good night, Randy Ford

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Randy-author on moving beyond mental masturbation

      I have thought for some time, reliving incidents in my life, about a number of stories I’ve yet to write.   I’ve always intended to write them; and I’m not sure what direction they each should take: whether each story fits better in a larger work or can stand on its own.   I’ve taken short cuts, and written short stories.   These worked for me; most of the time, as I wrote them quickly, I didn’t have to dig into my psyche for material.

      The boy from Irving Texas grows into the man I am now.   The man, who rejected Irving Texas, as a writer, returns to his hometown.   The grown man, who has memories of places around the world, feels pulled to memories of earlier times; when he can now put the picture together.   The young high school student, the same guy as the grown man, who was humiliated by his classmates for “jacking off” in a restroom when he didn’t know what “jacking off” meant…in order that he might write something of lasting value…tries to move beyond mental masturbation.

      I think this is the only way I can move forward with my writing career, by looking again at my background, with “he don’t” and “git”, in a small urban town where kids didn’t have time to study.   It was also where somehow I turned out differently, or so it seems, than anyone else.   This is not totally true. Interestingly enough, my first girlfriend…Kay Jones, the love of my life in the second grade, who lived on the next street directly behind us…also became a playwright.   I jealously read a write-up about her in the Irving paper.   It was years after I left Irving that I saw that she had written a play about our high school and perhaps had outdistanced me.

     I need to move on.  Randy Ford

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