Chicken Hypnosis


"I'm bored with my life," I write, sitting at the kitchen table. I'm drinking my morning coffee and writing in my journal. Behind me, my housemate is rummaging for something in the fridge. "Urgh, something smells in here," he says. I shudder knowing it's probably something of mine I'll have to deal with later.

"Artistic style is only a means to an end, and the more styles you have, the better. To get trapped in a style is to lose all flexibility. If you have only one style, then you’re going to do the same book over and over, which is pretty dull. Lots of styles permit you to walk in and out of books. So, develop a fine style, a fat style, and fairly slim style, and a really rough style." —Maurice Sendak, Artist to Artist, p.74.

"Most writers [...] prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy— an ecstatic intuition—and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought—at the true purposes seized only at the last moment—at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view—at the fully matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable—at the cautious selections and rejections—at the painful erasures and interpolations—in a word, at the wheels and pinions—the tackle for scene-shifting—the step-ladders and demon-traps—the cock’s feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio." —Edgar Allan Poe quoted in Edmund Bergler,The Writer and Psychoanalysis, p.6-7.

Monday, April 13

I'm bored with my life. I had an 'ok' weekend. Actually I had a good weekend, but I'm down for some reason. I want some adventure. I need some stimulation, input.

I was getting a lot out of my work before, but now I'm bored with it. There are no surprises ahead. I pretty much know how to do it now, and the idea of writing more personal stuff, or doing more stuff with lists doesn't excite me.

I want to do something new. I want to be caught by surprise.

Hmmm... I could be more active—start running again, or do more exercise... I could see friends more...

Part of it is disengaging with that desire that my work should transform me. "Nothing's gonna change my world," John Lennon said sang.

But still, I do get excited by stuff—by doing new work. Boredom is just not seeing any other alternatives. I don't get bored; I get frustrated. I get frustrated because I get blocked or sad because I'm not doing what I want to do—because I'm doing what I think I 'should do', or what's easy or safe. Boredom is the absence of desire. I've withdrawn my investments in what I'm doing.

I'm Toad from Wind in the Willows. It's got to three or four months and I'm bored of my new hobby, and I want to try something else.

Sendak and having different styles


Sendak and having different styles... I need a new style otherwise I'll lose interest. Writing and doing the cover art for every issue is taking too long. What if it was simple art simplified? Hand-drawn? Images in the public domain?

What if the blog was truly immediate? I liked the ending last week because of the way it ended. When I got to Bob Dylan and me saying, "Hey, that's the theme of this issue!"—that was genuine, and I think you could tell. Plus, ending it that way was a trick I'd never done before.

What if I threw the my chips in the air again and tried something new?

What if this was the next entry?

Surely someone, somewhere could would identify with it. What was that thing that Poe said that Bergler quoted—about writers being reluctant to let the reader peek behind the curtain and see what their writing is like in its as a first draft? Maybe if I release this unedited, pretty much unedited, it would have that freshness and immediacy of that last bit about Dylan—moments of genuineness and surprise.

Except I've spoilt spoiled it now. I'm thinking about other people reading this and it's changing the way I write.

Instead of standing there in my

Instead of my writing standing there in its socks and undies, I've become embarrassed and started putting clothes on it.

Still. It's interesting though.

Gosh, so much of about writing is a magic trick—self-mesmerising, chicken hypnosis.

I do like the idea of freeing up my art like Sendak said about having different styles—more complex stuff as well as quick rough easy sketches.


Illustrations made with an image sourced from The British Library