Thank you Richard Skinner for inviting me to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Here are my answers:
What am I working on?
I’m editing the manuscript of my next book, tentatively called F.M.R.L. It is a collection of fragments and longer texts (which I like to call deranged essays), each of them working as a possible beginning for another book, and tied together by an attention to listening, reading and writing.
I’m also writing a couple of other texts for anthologies, and for over a year I’ve been absorbed in a written conversation with Patrick Farmer – although I’ve now reached that point where the gravitational pull of the book is at its strongest, hence everything I write ends up in the manuscript, in some way or the other.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure what I do can be inscribed in a genre and at the same time I have issues with labels such as ‘cross-disciplinary’: in too many cases they’re just smoke screens.
My writing is quite undisciplined, in the sense that I do not start with a plan or outline or topic, rather I respond to encounters with sounds and words; I let my contingent thinking/listening/reading lead the writing. This doesn’t mean it lacks rigour, but the rigour comes from an editorial glance and ear ingrained in the writing process and from a strict attention to form, pacing, rhythm. In Lecture on Something John Cage says it is not a talk about Feldman’s music but a talk within a rhythmic structure which effects the possibility of nothing – I relate very much to that.
My choice, at a very early stage, was to leave writing unrelated to any funding applications / grants guidelines and so on, hence to write with no such constraints. This allows me to be more daring (but far from me to raise any claims for ‘freedom’ in such framework. There’s no freedom from history, obsessions and attractions: there are, in writing, tensions to move away from them, to leave) and although such a decision poses other types of conflicts and constrains, it’s one that I’m keen to continue embracing.
One thing I’m sure about: the more I write, the less I write. The tendency to write less and less has been one of my main preoccupations since my last book. Maybe because there is an abundance of wordy books on listening and sound, some of them overwhelming to my ears and eyes, my aim at the moment is to write in a way that is less wordy and less linear, with loose and frayed threads, embedding spaces of quietude.
I see my recent writing as an eerily murmuring marginalia around the edges of the current ponderous discourse on sound.
Why do I write what I do?
Is there an alternative?
(My most convincing writing happens without a ‘why’ and a ‘what’, without an object. I’m not so interested in discussing why and what I write if I’m not asked to discuss how I write and where the writing exists.
Therefore, onward to the next question…)
How does my writing process work?
My writing process cannot be separated from my reading and listening processes, and in this sense I am very attentive of what I read and listen to because I believe they shape my words.
Since my writing exists in response to two ephemeral activities such as listening and reading, it takes shape as a series of annotations around a missing core, to the point when the very borders and margins become the core of what I do. Lately I’ve been researching very specifically the emergence, disappearance, degrees of opacity and clarity of my marginated writing, in relation to reading and listening.
In terms of process, I cannot sit purposefully in front of a blank document or plan long writing hours in advance. I write intermittently and I let myself being summoned to write by a persistent or sudden thought or prompt, by sentences scribbled on a notebook while travelling or walking, during a concert or while reading – then the long hours begin, most of them spent re-arranging words. Yesterday I was reading an interview with Roberto Calasso where he says he constructs his books like mosaics and he never knows where a book is going to end. It is, mostly, a process of arranging materials.
I never felt I made an agreement with anybody for my writing, except for my writing. In this sense, I am reluctant to call it work: rather, I write off dictations, encounters with and rearrangements of words. I play in them and then I withdraw from them. I am not expressed in the words I write: I impress them for some time and then go elsewhere. Reading and listening are resonating spaces in which nothing happens other than the fleeting, thwarted, contingent conversations, frictions, thoughts, kinships that they generate or host or complicate. You cannot see or hear reading and listening until they meet life. Outside of their edges, reading and listening meet life and there they speak and sound and gain presence again. Away from themselves and in transformation. How can writing sustain all this?
Here is a link to Lorena Munoz-Alonso, who will post her answers on May 19th:
Lorena is a Spanish writer based in London. I was impressed with a text that she wrote last year on listening to the music by Eliane Radigue, which I found engaging because of the way she mixes the experience of listening with fragments of memory, historical commentary and fiction, in a tidal prose that reflects very much Radigue’s work.