Tuesday, December 30, 2008

White Flow from Rob C Rogers

White Flow from Rob C Rogers, whose 2008 debut novel Devil's Cape (review here) reimagined Louisiana in a dark and super-powered world:

For me, writing is kind of like trying to weave some kind of net in a cold forest in the dark. I meander. My line gets snagged. I stub my toe or bang my head. I can navigate through obstacles and pull things together and make it work, but it's slow going and often painfully hard. It makes me shiver. Every once in a while, though, I have a Eureka moment, and it's like a clear, warm beam of moonlight pointing my way. More often than not, that breakthrough comes from finding a way to tie two disparate strands of my narrative--my net--together in a way that I didn't see before. This plot point comes straight from that character's motive. This event sets up a domino effect leading to that one. This scene should belong to this character, not that one."

It's an unexpected connection that brings order and strength to the jumbled strands I've been working with. And when that moment hits me, I'm in the white flow, the zone. The ideas move faster than my fingertips do and the going is suddenly much, much easier. Until the next tangle, of course...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heidi the Hick on White Flow

Heidi the Hick recently logged some Zen observations over on Hick Chick:

All three of these activities - riding, writing, painting - require a willingness to let go of whatever is troubling your mind. Focus is not something that comes easily to me, and I need to consciously shed the noise. Look up, through the horse's ears at the track ahead, forget about anything on the other side of the fence, send my thoughts down to my legs and belly while thinking ahead to what I'll need to ask of the horse. Look in, look for the people who only exist in my head, forget about the publishing industry and the laundry and the dust bunnies, listen for the voices and sense the inner world. Look straight ahead, inches away, to the thick colour in the bristles, forget about the saws and nail guns on the other side of the wall, let my eyes soak up the new line of glistening paint covering the old.

Then push my leg against the horse's side and keep him moving, let my fingers fly and the keys click, the roller running over the wall and make everything new.

Things get rolling, running, flowing, moving, whichever way you look at it: progress, reward.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Putting It Together

The incomparable Steven Sondheim put together a number of songs in the musical "Sunday in the Park with George" that epitomize the artistic and creative processes. Unfortunately, each one also has subtexts that make it about something else as well. "Putting It Together" shows the process that artists have to go through to get the art made in the first place, through patrons and backers and corporate folk. The first one is closest to a White Flow item, but for Actors/Singers.

Here's three version of "Putting it Together" -

Carol Burnett (2000) from "Putting It Together" (A Sondheim review, with George Hearn, Ruthie Henshall, John Barrowman and Bronson Pinchot)


Barbra Streisand (1985) from "The Broadway Album"

Mandy Patinkin (1986) - from "Sunday in the Park with George"There's lots of dialog in this one, so I'm not sure how well it
translates if you haven't seen the play.

Okay, just for fun, here's a fourth just in case you haven't heard enough yet. This one reminds me of an old version of "Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma".

Kuh Ledesma (2007?) from "ACT II"

Monday, December 1, 2008

White Flow from Rosemary Clement-Moore

Here's how Rosemary Clement-Moore, author of the smart and funny Maggie Quinn books - Prom Dates from Hell, Hell Week, and Highway to Hell - feels about the white flow :

Back in high school, I dreaded pleasant weather, because we would have to go run laps around the track in gym. It would be way too humiliating to miss the honor roll because of my P.E. grade, so I at least attempted a wheezing sort of gallumph around the track, accompanied by shouts "Just Do It" from the latest in a line of unsympathetic coaches.

So I don't get the sports metaphor when it comes to writing. At least, not in a positive way. I've never experienced the runner's high. I've never found that rhythm where something hard becomes easy. The best I've done is reach a point where momentum has made it less hard. And yes, there are definitely writing days like that.

But on good days, writing is dancing. Physically, it's just as hard as sports. But when the music plays, the stress and exertion take a back seat to the joy of expression. It's still hard work: remembering turnout and technique, placement and grace, remembering the choreography and staying in time with the music. But you're creating something: an experience, a picture, a moment of connection with an audience. Or maybe you're just dancing for yourself. Either way, you're striving, exerting, working--and having a whole helluva lot of fun.

Maybe some people feel that way about running, or about football, or gymnastics. But "in the zone" for me is dancing: hard work and preparation, and the joy of doing something I love, and the satisfaction when I feel in my bones that I'm doing it well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

White Flow from Natalie Goldberg

The Zen approach to writing dominates Natalie Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones. Every third page turns up a worthy quote. Here's an excerpt:

Often I can look around the room at my students as they write and can tell which ones are really on and present at a given time in their writing. They are more intensely involved and their bodies are hanging loose. Again, it is like running. There's little resistance when the run is good. All of you is moving; there's no you separate from the runner. In writing, when you are truly on, there's no writer, no paper, no pen, no thoughts. Only writing does writing- everything else is gone.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

White Flow from Jack Remick

The first White Flow State quote comes from From Jack Remick over at the Weekend Novelist

We jot start lines on slips of paper and toss them into a hat. Someone picks a start line. "I remember that day." Bob starts the timer. I write for ten minutes. Furious. All those people. Then something happens. I forget about the people and the clock and I forget about where I am and who brought me there-I'm into the words and the scratch of my pen on the paper. The feel of the pen on the paper. Something happens. Don't know what happens until I read aloud, in short, sharp bursts. The words are hot and electric. A new energy rips through me as I expose my fresh new unedited uncerebral loose awful words to the group. If I go to a Jungian psychologist, he'll tell me I'm having an abreaction-a break through of emotional energy when the unconscious pours material through the corpus callosum, bringing image and power and excitement and-truth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In The White Flow

There is a moment when the universe aligns, and the words flow from your fingertips like a river of molten honey, spicy and golden and roaring out to possess the vacant pages.

You can't control it, you can't change it - there isn't even a desire to. You are merely the channel through which it flows, and you experience the thunder and the joy and the pain as something unique emerges from you.

This is the flow state. This is the white moment.

You are the prophet of God, the mount of a loa, the voice of a universe. Zeus thrusts lightning through your brain, thunder in your ears. And the moment leads on and on, building and flowing and piling word upon word, paragraph upon paragraph, scene upon scene, characters dancing and loving and bleeding on the page in the golden light.

This blog is dedicated to that creative state.

Send 50-200 word descriptions of your flow state to flow (dot) state (at) fontaigne (dot) com.

Add brief bio, link and current works.