Background Sounds

The voice in my head today.

The voice in my head today.

14 August 2013
10:13 AM


I feel extraordinarily cheerful today for some reason (yet unknown to me). I decided that I will write for a bit after I send you this letter, and see how it goes. I feel light and–quite simply, okay. Okay is good.

excerpts from Creative Writing Life
[Reading | Writing | Performing] Experiments

Be in the mind/perspective of a writer twenty-four hours a day. That means that all your senses are acute, attuned to delicate and fierce nuances of language. In waking, in walking, in dreaming, in thinking, in talking. Repeat the mantra: I exist to write.

Always have writing material at hand, a small notebook at the least. A working pen. Colored ink pens. Keep different notebooks and colors for different kinds of entries. Dream Notebook, Discursive Quotidian Reality Notebook, Cosmic Notebook. Have glue and scissors for interesting inserts.

Study a writer you admire. Keep a file.

Make a study of one of the planets. Or a star. Keep a file.

Anthropomorphize an object. Make it speak or think in writing.

Or paint an object with words (See Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons”).

Write as you sit by water (see Gertrude Stein’s Lucy Church Amiably, and Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur).

Write as you sit by fire.

Write while you listen to music. Any kind.

Take notes on what you overhear in a cafe, riding on a bus, in an airplane, coming off the radio.

Examine the prose poem, the epistolary poem, the essay-poem.

Write in the margins of all your books (see Susan Howe’s Melville Marginalia).

Write only in the margins.

Write a poem consisting entirely of asides. Distinguish through punctuation. Parentheses and brackets.

Write from a part of the body, as if your ear were thinking, your thigh, your eyeball.

Write from “left brain,” write from “right brain.”

Exchange dreams with another writer and write off each other’s dreams. You may start dreaming each other’s dreams.

Homolinguistic: Translate a poem by someone else from English to English.

Make a piece of writing that’s all questions.

Poems of the vowels (see Rimbaud).

Chants, lists. Start with 100 memories.

Mishear and write.

(Selected list, ongoing, for the Jack Kerouac School, 1975-2001)

– from Vow to Poetry by Anne Waldman

I should mail you a copy of this.

I like to listen to background sounds or music while I write. There’s jazz, of course. On some days, it’s Philip Glass. On some days, opera. Or classical music. Probably Shostakovich or Schubert. On some days, musical scores. The score for the Jason Bourne movies or Gladiator especially, when I am on a tight deadline (it makes me feel like I have to accomplish something, i.e. kill someone or be killed myself).

Then there are times when I prefer a bit of white noise, rather than complete silence. Too much quiet makes my mind wander and keeps me from focusing. I like the sound of water best. The sea, or a little stream. Or rain.

At the moment, though: background sounds of a cafe, a bit of rain and thunder, and Dustin O’Halloran’s Opus 23. With the right amount of volume, I can play all three at the same time and conjure a nice mood for myself. (It’s quite sunny outside now; it would have been nice to hear actual rain coming down the pipes.)

I hope today finds you smiling.

Good morning,


One thought on “Background Sounds

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