Sunday, August 21, 2011

Focus and Today's Writer - A Brief Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch

All this month the lit guests who've contributed to this blog have discussed their own experience with focus in this new age of social media (relatively speaking): how they use the medium as a way to build their author platform, promote their work and connect with readers; and what this all means in the evolution of the writer and the publishing industry.

But what about this medium's affect on creativity? Will status updates and 140 characters be the new micro flash fiction or narrative?

Today I give the floor to Lidia Yuknavitch, author of the acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water (Hawthorne Books, 2011), to share her brief manifesto of focus and today's writer. Enjoy.

I pour my coffee I put half-and-half in it I shuffle over to the CYCLOPS I open a window.

I check my yahoo email I check my gmail email I check my email at work and at my website and my blog and oh yeah over at Linked In. I slug more joe I open another window. I check my facebook email I check the facebook live feed most recent stories I check my facebook friends' pages I try again to think of a clever pithy witticism to post as my status or maybe it's a sad or tired day and I'm neither clever nor pithy and I post an image of a dead bird. I drink coffee. Five people post comments about the dead bird. I check my book page I check my fan page I make sure they are not sad and lonely I respond to the five posts about the dead bird image ten more appear. Then there are all those friends whose walls I need to comment on, don't I? So they know I care and am engaged and just to reach out and touch?

What are my favorite Youtube songs and which one should I post?

How did it get to be 5:30 pm and who opened that god damn window and am I really still wearing my bathrobe and HEY! It’s 5:30 pm! Where is my cocktail?

Here it is straight-no-chaser: the only way I can balance my creative process as a writer with all the varieties of social media competing for my attention through the giant CYCLOPS otherwise known as my computer is to make the very forms of its existence part of everything I write.

In other words, while I’ve got all those media going on the CYCLOPS I think about formal strategies in writing to make use of. Fragmented narratives. Characters whose identities are cut up and displaced over a sea of technologies. Voices overlapping and interrupting and threatening to steal plots. Status updates as dialogue.

You see, I’ve given up. I’ve surrendered to the dominant modes of production of my time, just like I did with television, just like I did with film, just like I did when I owned my first computer and began to cry with joy that a technology for making stories finally existed that was IMAGE BASED and multilayered. Just like inside my head.

So my fellow social mediaheads. Facehookers. G-stringers. Stop worrying about the trash you didn’t take out and the clothes you didn’t wash and the dishes piling up in the sink. Those edits your publisher needs? Playfully twist them into status updates and share them with us; better yet, let us do some of them for you. Start reading facebook like you would a novel. Write novels that admit this is how we now live and love.

Comrades. Unite. Surrender. It’s our turn to quit acting attacked and take over the mode of production for what it is: another form of making.

m.02 (my two cents worth)

143 (I love you)

14AA41 (one for all and all for one)

99 (parent is no longer watching)

?^ (hook up?)

About the Contributor

(credit: Hawthorne Books)

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of three works of short fiction: Her Other Mouths, Liberty's Excess, and Real to Reel, as well as a book of literary criticism, Allegories of Violence. Her works has appeared in Ms., The Iowa Review, Exquisite Corpse, Another Chicago Magazine, Fiction International, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. Her book Real to Reel was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and she is the recipient of awards and fellowships from Poets and Writers and Literary Arts, Inc. Her work appears in the anthologies Life As We Show It (City Lights), Forms at War (FC2), and Wreckage of Reason (Spuytin Duyvil). She teaches writing, literature, film and women's studies in Oregon.

1 comment:

  1. Cyclops to sleep now... washing, cleaning, stretching, doing. :)


Leave your thoughts! Feel free to share with us your success stories or tips.