Friday, May 20, 2005

Napping on the Job

In some places, Flux Factory’s little novel experiment that wouldn’t hurt a fly is being likened to the monster that devoured Cleveland in its brutish, unnatural aim to foster Chia-fiction. Purely by coincidence, one of the resident writers, Grant Bailie, hails from Cleveland. In this week’s New Yorker, Ben McGrath wrote a “Talk of the Town” item alerting readers not of the dangers of laboratory engineered literature but of the laziness of part of its labor force. Me. Being a novice in the production of insta-fiction, I have humble expectations for my efforts. I am, however, proud of my capacity to stay awake. Awake is what I am good at. Ask anyone. If Ben had tried to make contact with me, I would happily have shown him my stash of melatonin, Unisom and Ambien tablets displayed prominently in my cabin to aid sleep. For anyone who cares, I have not met Ben McGrath, nor has he met me. (That I know of. What does he look like?) I was not called by Ben McGrath. I did not hear Ben McGrath knock on the door of my cabin, probably because I wear ear plugs and over them Bose sound reducing headphones most of the time. During the day, I don’t want to be disturbed by just anyone who happens along. At night, I'm protecting my fragile sleep. I do not nap. The blog he quoted was not part of a fiction piece and did not purport to be part of a fiction piece. It was titled "Things Found in the Kitchen of Flux Factory," part of my log of impressions of the residency. Like this one.

20 Comments:

At 10:10 AM, Blogger imnotcocteau said...

The expected New Yorker reaction. It's sort of like a scientist looking through a microscope for a second, and screaming, "Eureka! I've found the meaning of life." A more disciplined journalist would have made a second trek to see you folks in action.

The piece sort of made me flash the following Monty Python episode:


Roger Last: [chat show set with three guests slumped in their seats] Good evening. Tonight on "Is There?" we examine the question of life after death. And here to discuss it are three dead people. The late Sir Brian Hardacre, former curator of the Imperial War Museum; the late Professor Thynne, until recently an academic, critic, and broadcaster; and putting the view of the Church of England, the very late Prebendary Reverend Ross. Gentlemen, is there a life after death or not? Sir Brian? [silence] Professor? [no response] Prebendary? [no response] Well there we have it, three say no. On "Is There?" next week, we'll be discussing the question "Is there enough of it about?" Until then, goodnight.

 
At 7:15 AM, Blogger Devon Ellington said...

You'd think another writer, even if he does write for the New Yorker, would understand that sometimes the creative process requires stillness.

On days that are completely devoted to writing (as opposed to days out in the world experiecing things to stimulate the writing), I spend a great deal of time either pacing or quite still. It's like a horse gathering himself to go over a jump -- but it takes longer.

I need to go back and read your entire blog of this experience, because I have many questions, most of which you've probably answered.

I wonder how it affects the creative process to be on display -- which, I guess is something you're discovering. I mentioned last night to a friend I felt it would be detrimental to my process, and he said, "But you blog. You talk in depth about your process every day."

To me, that's different. I'm dissecting after the fact, or making future plans. There's not an audience discovering the moment as I do.

Interesting experiment.

I'm working a Broadway show today, but I'll read more this week.

Best wishes,

Devon
http://inkinmycoffee.blogspot.com
www.devonellingtonwork.com

 
At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Dale Wood said...

i just discovered this blog- i will say that the idea of you locked up in a box for a month with your computer, your pills and your makeup makes me laugh. anyway, i wish you the very best of luck in this experience. God bless.

 
At 12:22 AM, Blogger Laurie Stone said...

Dear Devon, I think some of what you are wondering about is referred to in earlier blogs. Honestly, there is no sense of being on display. People come at set visiting hours and are respectful and often quite. The Flux Factory communards are perfect hosts, preserving our quiet. My house is beautiful, elegant, in no way an ordeal to inhabit, quite the opposite. This is proving to be one of the most fruitful creative experiences and alive and lovely living experiements I've ever engaged in.--Laurie

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger Devon Ellington said...

Laurie,

I'm so glad! Yes, I read further, and it answered many of my questions. Do you find it's changed your process? Or simply enhanced it? Are there routines/rituals you've started that you will continue when you leave, or are you just flowing and seeing what happens?

 
At 7:59 PM, Blogger Laurie Stone said...

I wish I could preserve this routine, but you and I both know it's impossible and that's why boxes are created. I would go to another, but I wouldn't be able to duplicate the terrific collaboation achieved her, with the other writers whom I enjoy a lot, the Flux communards who are giving and creative, and all the architects, who are smart and delightful and involved with the project all the way through. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so glad it happened to me. Best, Laurie

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger Aisha said...

If it works for you, it works for you. The New Yorker is what prompted my intrigue into what you're doing. I didn't take it the way you did. I thought of it as saying that you can't manufacture the right environment to write. I didnt take it as calling you lazy at all. Perhaps he felt this was out of your element. As a "wannabe" writer it will be very interesting to see if this ultimately works out for you or not. Would you do this again if you had it do all over?

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Laurie Stone said...

I would do it again in a minute, though these conditions have been created by the collaboration of many people: the architects, the fellow writers, and the Flux Factory residents who take care of and shelter us, making the environment wonderful for working. That's an interesting interpretation of The New Yorker piece. I'm glad your interest was piqued. I am having fun with him in my blog . . . I don't take the commentary very seriously, unless of course it's praise and then I clutch it to my breast.--Laurie

 
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