This is a morning in which I face the prospect of having write an essay the same morning that I post it. A matter of minutes before I post it, in fact.
I don’t like when this happens. It puts me in a distinctly uncomfortable place. I’m writing this, and putting it out there practically right after I’m done with it.
What I prefer, so much more, is when I have a reserve essay, which I wrote the day before or the day before that, in which I can just copy it into Weebly and post it. When I do it this way, the pressure’s on; I have to type and post the same thing the same day, and my writing may suffer for it.
Or at least I myself suffer, although suffer may be too strong a word. I put enough pressure on myself to post an essay a day (that’s why I took away the pressure to post a story every Friday), and when I write under pressure, it rough. Much better to post, and then set myself free in my journal, and write until an essay idea comes to me.
So now, the essay is about what’s in front of me, which is writing under pressure. This is truly fresh baked bread out of the oven, and I don’t know if I’ve given the dough a chance to rise. It could very well be a flat, heavy thing, basically dense, chewy yeast and flour.
I try to imagine, instead, that it’s a soda bread, in which I don’t have to worry about the yeast rising and can just accept that it’s not going to have that true taste that bread has. It’s more like a bland cake, in which I hope that I’ve put enough raisins in it to at least give it some sweetness.
I wrote under deadline when I used to write for my college paper, but there, I went into the writing with an outline of what I was doing, so it was easier to hang the article on the structure I’d put together in my mind. In this case, it feels as if I’m painting something from the top down, filling in every detail as I go, instead of sketching an outline and building from there.
Yet still I know that I can learn something from this. In the liner notes to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, pianist Bill Evans discusses a form of Chinese art in which the painter uses a calligraphy brush and works on a surface much like tissue paper. To pause in any way breaks the paper, and Evans says that it gives the work an immediate quality not found in other art…much the way that Kind of Blue was practically a spot improvisation, with the musicians working from only the most basic of structures, and largely making it up as they went along.
Of course, a more appropriate analogy might be the free jazz of Ornette Coleman, or even the “where-in-the-name-of-all-that’s-good-and-holy-are-we-going” work of Cecil Taylor. Of course, though, besides the fact that I’m being awfully swell headed to liken myself to those guys, there’s still a lot more basic structure than there is with them; I’m basically a guy who sticks to the major and minor scales, while those guys play around with modes, the diminished scale, and whole tone scale, and who knows what else.
A more appropriate comparison to Coleman—and Taylor perhaps even more so—would probably be William Burroughs’s “cut up” technique, in which he would paste together random sections of hacked up books and make a work from that. Me, I’m still learning the rules so that I know how to break them.
As I’ve said, this is where I practice my pure science research. It may amount to nothing. On the other hand, it may, you know, amount to something.
Really liking Ornette Coleman, by the way. Not quite sure about Cecil Taylor yet.