I have been thinking a lot about memory. I mean, that’s what it is, right? Thinking a lot about memory, is what memory is. But more than that, thinking about something akin to a particular kind of access to memory. If you cook from scratch or by eye, you know where I am going (see: “Prophetic Labor”). Writing is not about recreating with words what you smell, touch, hear, see, or taste. Writing is a sense. It exists even if we never have words. Smell, touch, hear, see, taste, write. Memory, access, cooking, words, smell, sense, write. Okay, there. We cannot capture it all. So, writing is not about capturing at all. And yes, we have seen it all. No, really. You have seen everything that you will ever see. That’s it. That’s all of it. Right now is everything. You have seen everything. Let that liberate you from “good writing,” to “just write” Latin: jus scribo justum or “I am writing just write.” Latin: “Right to go to write” (jus ad scribo) and “right conduct in writing” (jus in scribo).
Maybe I should just show you. We must trust that we will be able to recall it all. Remember, they will come for you in the ad hominem, because they know you are not yet able to detach your writing hand from your writing. I will now teach you how to write from scratch and how to “eyeball” as a measure.
What was the name of the constellation that was in the heavens when you first wrote? Who was the first person in your lineage to write? What did they sign away or sign up for? What equipment or tools do you need to create the atmosphere that is conducive to writing? Substitute, because sometimes you have run out of something in the middle of preparing it, so substitute writing with love. Think ancestrally. Think your uncle’s kitchen. Think garden. Think row and hoe. Think fat. Think spoon. Think mortar. Now, what emotional ingredients do you need to have in order to create love? And God forbid, if you have run out of love… wait, writing is standing up to God, but if you have dug all the way to the back of the love pantry, if there are no preserves or pickling, substitute love for spirituality. Feel free to use strength, courage, stillness, or insight. Who taught you how not to cry in front of an onion or a man? What is this measure of these ingredients (see: “Mimetic Labor”). Remember, scratch and eyeball. A choir full…? True story: my grandmother used to say, when she tasted something prepared particularly well by a rival cook, “You put your titties and your toes in that!” Measure. Unmeasure. A resistance to…? An ocean bottom of…? Okay, here we go. What are the instructions for combining the ingredients of writing, of love or spirituality? Feel free to substitute or add the erotic. Stir until your arms hurt? Throw everything in a march and pray? What temperature does it all need to come to? Deathcold? Homelesscold? Old flame? Does it need to come to a boil or just simmer? What happens when it gets there? Does it freeze? What if it needs to come to room temperature? Like, uneventful ass room temperature. How do you know when it has reached doneness? Do you stick a toothpick into it and hope it comes out clean? If you poke it and it springs back? (See: “Erotic Labor”) If you have reached the bottom of the page and you didn’t know you had reached the bottom of the page and you are teetering on the cliff, and you try to shift your weight back, but you get a glimpse of falling off, and you begin to think how you could keep falling and that it would be beautiful writing about it? Then, is it done? How do you serve it? How does it reach people? What if someone says your writing, your love, your spirituality, your erotic(ness), your creativity, your production, is missing something? Will you adjust your recipe for them? Will you be able to give them what they want, even if it’s not you or yours? Do you put it in their hands? How many people will it feed? You can say, “One.” But try “legion” or “crucibles” or “marrows” or “cuts” or “rachis” or “vane” or “afterfeather” or “umbilicus” or “quill.” How many will it feed? And finally, now that you have taken it, and transformed it forever, let loose of being afraid of forgetting that you know the way. Memory is not about being afraid of forgetting.
Look at this mess we’ve made of creation. There is flour everywhere. The writing is spilling faster than we can wipe it up. And do you care as much about trying to get it just right, like good old mom did it, or like the food-stylist-shellacked-meringue peaks in the picture? This is what I do: I labor. Do not worry about writing it down. It will come back to you. I will come back to you.