A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Nine Pages

In his brilliant new book, On Poetry, Glyn Maxwell invents an imaginative exercise designed to help the poet put some black marks onto white paper:

Take nine sheets of blank paper and pretend the following things about them:
That the first page is physically hurt by your every word.
That the second page is turned on by every syllable.
That every mark on the third page makes you remember more.
On the fourth, less, like dementia.
That God can only hear you if you're writing on the fifth page.
That only touching the sixth page are you hidden from God.
That every word you write on the seventh prolongs the time from now until the moment you meet that mythical creature known as The One.
That every word you write on the eighth brings that moment closer, yes, but makes your time together shorter.
The ninth page says you have only nine words left in your life.

I was reminded once more of Jack Kerouac's writing tips.


The Weaver of Grass said...

I shall print this out Robert and put it in mywriting file!! Sounds a brilliant book anyway.
I am a great Kerouac fan.

Goat said...

What is this "paper" of which he speaks? Some kind of app?

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, he does mention screens and pixels too, Goat, but I didn't have a clue what he was on about.

Ruth said...


That first page is brilliant for distilling. Well so is the second. And the ninth.

The others are hard for me to get my head around. But maybe that's because I haven't actually tried the exercises, and then they might lead to amazing discoveries.

Friko said...

Oh dear, I must be very stupid. I don't quite (or a lot) understand what Maxwell is saying. Do I make those marks? Do I write words? Or am I too frightened by the outcome to do anything at all but stare at the blank sheets of paper?

The Solitary Walker said...

Distilling, distilling. Then more distilling. That's the essence, Ruth! (Nine words)

Don't be frightened, Friko! Pretend nine words are left. (Nine words.)

Anonymous said...

Goat - I dont know about Maxwell, but Kerouac used toilet paper. I will easily be in the minority when I say I'm not surprised.

Another Sol walker.