Friday, September 15, 2017

Amanda Earl : my (small press) writing day

I write in fits and starts throughout the weekdays, sandwiching my writing in between other activities (wanking, chatting up men on OK Cupid, exercising, inputting events and poems to, the site I run, answering e-mail,  cracking the whip on various deadlines for Bywords, AngelHousePress, the micropress I run).

For the current work-in-progress, “Syn”: let’s say it’s six thirty a.m. by the time I’m on my red couch with my favourite mug perched on my belly and the incense burning. On dark days, I light a candle. Ghostpoet is playing on my music system. I don’t always listen to music while I’m writing, but for this manuscript, “Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam” has the right sound, vibe and rhythm.

My living room/dining room area is the perfect environment for writing. I live on the nineteenth floor, which feels like an aerie, high above the trivialities and troubles of the city.  Shelves are full of books and curiosities. The couch is comfortable and red, a colour I associate with defiance and passion. The kettle and the Scotch bottle are not far away.

“Syn” (short for synaesthesia) is a series of prose poems which remixes sources from art, philosophy and psychology. Tea is an effective mind-wandering substance, while incense, music and a calm and familiar, non-distracting environment help put me in a creative state of mind.

I write and flip through various books on my coffee table, plucking out a few words and phrases here and there to jumpstart what I refer to as guided remixes that attempt to reach deep into my subconscious—and, all being well, the reader’s--through the use of abstractions and imagery that evokes colour, motion, texture, emotion . I might include the line as is, change it, or delete it entirely, substituting another turn of phrase that I like better or an image that comes to mind and seems more effective. My journal is covered in scratched out bafflegab and false starts.

The physical act of writing in a journal is highly sensual (like a caress) and conducive to creativity. The journal I am currently using has a battered, brown leather cover, which smells…well...leathery, kinda sexy. The journal’s pages are blank. I do not care for lined pages, which feel as if they’re dictating a sense of order to me and I feel constrained. It’s not that I can’t compose from scratch on a keyboard--I do it often enough; however, for this project, I need to commune with the senses as much as possible. If you’d like to buy me a dozen multi-coloured roses to aid in the creation of a sensual environment, please do so. I’m also fond of Mumm’s Extra Dry or a fine, leggy Malbec.

I read the work aloud from the journal. Nothing I write, not even this piece, is allowed to sit silently on the page. I have to read it aloud in order to ensure that the sound and rhythm match the tone I need.

This might be time for another cup of tea. I might switch to Lapsang Souchong, the Lagavulin of tea, or an Earl Grey Cream, depending on whether I’m feeling in need of firing up or creaming down.

I type my scrawlings on the computer before the work becomes indecipherable. My handwriting is notoriously illegible. I know because a doctor told me so. I print out what I’ve written and let it sit for a while, take a nap, do my exercises again, wank more, meet with a pal or a lover for lunch or a drink or I go out on walkabout alone for an hour or so. I will bring the print out of the day’s work along to peruse or I will leave it be to reread the next morning and edit it then. I don’t fret about progress or have specific goals for the day’s writing. I don’t feel guilty if I haven’t written much that day. I write daily because writing is an intrinsic part of my life. When I’m not able to write, it feels weird, as if I haven’t had space to think or to breathe.

Tea: A World of Tea Irish Breakfast steeped for 6 minutes, with a dollop of mil;.
Mug: (gift from a kind friend) Write Like A Motherfucker, The Rumpus Store;
Incense: Triloka patchouli or cedar sandalwood, Herb and Spice Wellness Shop;
Music: Ghostpoet, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam;
Accompaniment: Pigeons, Sirens;
Attire: Plaid PJ bottoms and a Fuit of the Loom Men’s Undershirt, Grey;
Wank-material: Internet grope porn or one of my own erotic stories.

Amanda Earl’s books include the self-published erotic novella, A World of Yes, DevilHouse, 2015; Kiki, a poetic celebration of Montparnasse between the Wars, Chaudiere Books, 2014; and a collection of short, filthy tales, Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl, Coming Together, 2014. Chapbooks published in 2017 include Lady Lazarus Redux, above/ground press; Electric Garden, winner of the Tree Press Chapbook Award and I Owe Saint Hildegard the Light, unarmed press. Amanda is the managing editor of and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. She and a.m. kozak cohost the podcast, the Small Machine Talks. More information is available at or connect with her on Twitter @KikiFolle or OK Cupid: Ottawa Kiki.

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