A quarter turn of the screw—Episode 12 will officially place me a quarter of the way through my Best Worst Year (in print anyway). A couple of weeks ago, after a reading, someone who I didn’t know (but reads this blog) asked me what my “process” was for writing these little guys. I hadn’t thought about it. I mean, I write poetry, these little notes from wherever are just… well I don’t know what they are–sometimes they sound too much like memoir pieces (or Dashboard Confessional lyrics) and sometimes they feel like I have no fucking clue what I’m doing. Loud, Confident, and Wrong is actually the Warner Family motto (the crest is two pandas spooning in delightful resignation on top of a vintage turntable), so to answer the question of “process” I am ripping off Patton Oswalt for this week’s dispatch from a couch near you.
Full Disclosure: While writing the first twelve episodes of The Best Worst Year, I’ve been also doing the following…
● Googling the whereabouts of…
○ Koko B. Ware
○ Tito Santana
○ The “You’re Getting a Dell” Dude
○ Fugazi (minus Ian MacKaye)
○ Til Tuesday (minus Amy Mann)
○ The Cast of the Facts of Life
○ my dignity
● IMDB searches for the cast of…
○ The Last Dragon
○ Shaft’s Big Score
○ High Fidelity
○ The Wrestler
○ The Third Man
○ Big Mama’s House
● Ebaying the following items:
○ One Vintage Journey Escape tour poster (did not win)
○ Three different copies of Led Zeppelin Houses of The Holy LP: Bob Ludwig Mastered edition (item won)
○ One copy of The Replacements Sorry Ma I Forgot to Take Out The Trash on red vinyl–final Twin Tone pressing (item obviously won)
○ One copy of My Bloody Valentine Loveless 2007 LP reissue (did not win)
○ One Motorola phone charger for my dad’s antique i1770 (won)
○ Two copies of Sid and Nancy Criterion Collection DVD (price research only)
○ One vintage Pre-CBS Fender Telecaster
○ One LJN JunkYard Dog Wrestling Superstar action figure
○ A pair of President and Mrs. Kennedy salt and pepper shakers
○ One copy of The Damned’s first LP (won)
○ One human kidney (currently unavailable)
○ One artificial limb (currently the highest bidder)
● Added the following playlists to Spotify:
○ Best Worst Year (The Soundtrack)
○ No Dead Cats
○ And if God was 7
● Checked my Facebook Newsfeed 832 times.
● Purchased a pair of Warby Parker frames (Model: Neville/ Color: Blue Marblewood).
● Tweeted fifteen times (usually about being late on Best Worst Year).
● Instagrammed pictures of various LP’s.
● Listened to the following podcasts:
○ Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
○ Sklarbro Country
○ The Dana Gould Hour
○ How Did This Get Made?
○ The Pod F. Tompkast
○ Shortwave with Grant Lee Philips
○ WNYC’s Radiolab
○ WXPN’s World Cafe
● Watched the Phil Ochs documentary on Netflix
● Listened to the following albums: (List deleted due to bandwidth issues on blog page.)
● NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
● Watched several vintage WWF matches on YouTube.
● Applied to fourteen different jobs. Rejections received: fifteen.
● Drank a cup of coffee for every ten minutes I stared blankly at this page.
So…yeah. Sometimes learning about writing processes is like learning how sausage is made. Of course, you’re talking to someone who watches an inordinate amount of Modern Marvels (“Hmm History of Glass you say…I would say yes!”)…seriously I don’t know anymore if it is a telltale sign of being depressed or just a matter of fact that there’s usually a marathon of these little bastards on H2 Monday night. Anywho I thought you’d like to know what I’m actually doing or what the Hell is actually going through my mind when I’m working on a fresh edition of BWY. I’m not sitting in the dark staring at the middle distance while the Nick Drake catalog plays on repeat. Sometimes I’m writing at a Tim Hortons or a Panera Bread or a random Donut Shop with WiFi. Sometimes I’m writing at my friend Andrea’s breakfast nook (a great writing spot–highly recommended).
On a serious note, I would like to thank Justin and Sundog Lit for giving me the space to be (painfully) me each and every week. Writing these pieces have helped me connect with some deeper truths in my own poetry that I didn’t realize I was glancing past in lieu of literary devices and the shield of poetic craft.
Last weekend I participated in a workshop with Jon Sands and he reminded us of the import of heart in our work. I sat and thought about what I’ve been doing over the last couple months here–how even in the saddest moments there are pinholes of light and lightheartedness and conversely, the best of times also dip their edges in shadow. Light and shade. Magic and loss. There aren’t absolutes in remembering and there’s only as much honesty in a story as we’re comfortable with letting go of–the more we surrender to the page, the more surprised we can be at the outcome. Much like my day to day, thanks SDL for letting me surprise and be surprised each and every week.
I’d also like to thank my sisters in words, Andrea Talarico and Amye Archer. There are few people that I trust implicitly with my work–but no one to the degree of Andrea. She has been responsible for pushing me to places in my writing I thought I had already gone but had never really said in print. She has helped to really shape the most vulnerable moments of this blog so far, and oh yeah, she’s an incredible poet in her own damn right. Amye Archer’s memoir writing and blogs have been a constant source of inspiration as I have been trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to create week to week. Archer’s inappropriate sense of humor used to keep me sane at our former place of employment–now it keeps me in check on a greater stage. (There are a ton of other people to thank and I’m not omitting you out of malice. Just, you know how thank yous get and besides–I’ve got a shit ton more of these fuckers to write!)
Lastly, before the Oscar orchestra kicks up, I would like to thank you, the reader. The folks who know me and the folks who don’t. The folks who share my Best Worst Year on Facebook, Twitter, and passenger pigeon. The folks who have figured out my email (email@example.com). The folks who wait for these episodes every week and the folks who happen upon them out of chance. I’m used to doing all my navel gazing in front an audience and wrapping that little pig in a blanket around poetry–figuring if I’m loud enough you have to listen. Here, you are choosing to listen, to engage in a conversation spread of hours and miles and pages. Only the act of writing is solitary–the dialog between you and me makes these words feel complete to me. I am grateful for your company and hope you follow me up the road a little further.
Jim Warner is the author of two poetry collections Too Bad It’s Poetry and Social Studies (Paper Kite Press). His poetry has appeared in The North American Review, PANK Magazine, Word Riot, and other journals. Jim received his MFA at Wilkes University. Follow him on Twitter: @whoismisterjim or see him next week at AWP as he will be hosting the All Collegiate After Hours Poetry Slams each and every night.
Amye Archer’s The Fat Girl Blog can be found here.