Monday, January 4, 2010

To think and then to do...

Last night I saw Bright Star, Jane Campion's 'learned and ravishing' new film about 18th century poet John Keats and the love of his short life, Fanny Brawne. 
The New York Times describes it as: "Perfectly chaste and insanely sexy..."
"A sequence in which, fully clothed, the couple trades stanzas of 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' in a half darkened bedroom must surely count as one of the hottest sex scenes in recent cinema."
Ah you see boys! - there are no bounds to the merits of poetry :)
The other interesting thing about the story was that Keats wrote in a kind of tag-team with Charles Brown, who was his patron and collaborator. Is that how it works? 
I always imagined the greats - especially the Romantic poets - worked alone. But maybe this is just an early example of what we call mentoring? Or a novelist working with an editor?
I've spent the last eight weeks trying to figure out how to make constructive headway with my own novel and one line truly resonated with me. 
Keats and Brown are lying around staring dreamily into space and appearing, to the outsider, to be lazy sloths. On being rudely roused by Fanny and her siblings, Keats' eloquent explanation goes something like this: 
"Doing nothing is the muse of the poet."
It's taken me a while, but I've found that simply sitting and thinking is essential to the writing process. (So is talking to yourself. Don't think I'm weird.) 
I've been really frustrated by the amount of time I while away thinking, because I've felt unproductive. But I've discovered that by giving your unconscious time and space, bit by bit, word by word, scene by scene, it will gradually bring forth your story. 
I've also discovered - and this is REALLY important! - the only way the thinking part works, is if you then glue your butt to the chair, put pen to paper and write. 
That's the hard part!

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