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Friday, September 4, 2009

Kerouac's Belief & Technique for Modern Prose: My Commentary Begins

I heard about Kerouac's list of writing tips called Belief & Technique for Modern Prose from the search I have set up in Tweeter for anything Kerouac (being a bit of a Beat, as well as beat-lower case-tragic). The tweet led me to a blog on which the blogger had posted the list, along with a list of tips from Kurt Vonnegut. As anyone who knows Kerouac's writing would already be guessing, his are a bit crazy, a little way out there, some verging on the mystical, others on the edge of reason. I don't really know Vonnegut's writing at all, but his tips are a bit more down to earth and even more directly related to the craft of writing-at least in the sense of mundane technical skills and so on. Also he has a nice succinct list of eight, while Kerouac has 30 on his list.

As soon as I read the Kerouac list I was blown away - just as it seems many people have been judging by the comments over at that other blog. Oh, almost forgot to give you all the address. It is: www.halfdesertedstreets.com/ . And an interesting site it it too. Very inspirational and friendly too. The blog owner calls themselves a book dork. Now that is something to be proud of, don't you think? I'm happy to have that label on me too. Just have to read a bit more first!

Anyway, I had this idea I would like to comment on at least some of 'tips' Kerouac offers. Then I thought, why not do a full blown bit of a commentary on a few of them that really struck me? But I thought then (lots of thinking going on here...makes a change my friends would say!) I would take the list from start to finish and comment on each tip in turn. It occurred to me that this may be the best way to do Kerouac's list justice. After all he chose to list the tips in the order that he did; maybe he was thinking clearly when he did it and prioritised the tips, or maybe he was off his face and was just rapping and it all came out in any old crazy and irrelevant order. Who knows? Hey, maybe someone out there does know??? Wow, that would be groovy. Let me know please!!!

So, that's what I'm going to do: Starting tomorrow I am going to work through the list. What a challenge; what a way to hon0ur one of my writing heroes. (which is not the same as saying he is one of my heroes for my life; but that's another VERY BIG story for another far off day).

Number 1 on Kerouac's list says:

Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr [sic] own joy.

Isn't that wild? Oops. Not now. Tomorrow. I want to sleep on this idea and let it just sink in. I want to really dig it before I go spouting off about it.

I feel one thing about Kerouac that needs to be said here and now. I believe strongly that he always struggled very hard for the truth. Not always in the way you or I might (or would dare?), and not always in ways that actually led anywhere useful (useful being a matter of perspective of course). But the search was genuine, of that I have never had any doubt, nor have most other serious readers of his work. This is why he fits here, on this blog. Besides, he is also a great writer: any tips he has are worth at least a little thought for any writer.

It is kind of a nice fit that his work was for a time influenced by Buddhism and his interpretation of the Dharma. And he was a dreamer too, wasn't he? And many since have used his work and life to inform their own Dreaming, their own searches for truth and life.

So, tomorrow then. I thank my fellow blogger for sharing these tips with all of us. Of course I and anyone could have found (perhaps should have found them before now) this list on our own, but the fact is, I didn't. Now I have. As I wrote on my comment on that blog: VERY GROOVY.

3 comments:

  1. You might also enjoy my Kerouac-obsessed blog: www.thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com.

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  2. Thanks for the link! I agree with you - Kerouacs are totally out there, but in a way they're incredibly interesting and...fun. In college I lived by them (that was, of course, during my beatnik year). What I like most about Kerouac is that he was never afraid to write. It's inspirational.

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  3. Groovy book you've written Rick. And thanks for your comment and follow. And Lauren I appreciate your comments too. Now it's to my promised first commentary.

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