Some writers, I just read and start grinning. Then I reread them….and reread them.
Catherine Wing is one I reread.
She is a poet.
In an interview, she was asked what her process of writing was. She answered –
Don’t, don’t, don’t, and then do. My writing process is fueled by guilt, coffee, and the dictionary. Like an interviewee struck dumb by the question, “Tell us about yourself,” I find if I sit down to write with no formal constraints or challenges I have little (or nothing) to say. So I construct a little straightjacket that I’m more comfortable in, whether it be alphabetical, rhythmical, metrical, logical, illogical, or etymological. This allows for surprise, since I don’t know what I’m writing until I get to the end of the line.
Now are you starting to understand why I like Catherine Wing?
Then you’d better read one of her poems.
Like this one, from her book Enter Invisible. It’s a particular favorite of mine because, in the screenwriting world which I inhabit, everyone is always talking about pitching….about how to pitch a story to make it sound great. Is it a good pitch? Is it a great pitch? Is your movie even worth pitching? It goes on and on, sometimes ad nauseum. But then Catherine Wing comes along and with a few deft strokes of her literal and metaphoric pen, turns everything I know or think I know about pitching….upside-down, and inside out.
Here it is —
It’s the story of a math genius posing as an imbecile or the one
where Porky is saved form the slaughterhouse by a woman
who wears no underpants. It’s the story of a rapacious weed
that takes over the earth, of One-Breasted Wanda falling in
love with Jungle Jack. Ed Anger writes the story up. It’s the
story of a rash. And the story of a rash of deaths caused by a
sea hag. It’s the story of a woman who could not open her
mouth and a woman who could not close her mouth. Maybe
they meet. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they are the perfect
couple. It is the story of a man possessed by his tattoo. It’s an
exclusive. It’s a curse or a commandment; it’s a commandment
on cursing which says for God’s sake thou shalt not laze about
on your chaise lounge. It’s a true story. It is the story of a man
who talked his way out of credit-card debt. It is the story of
the sunrise on July 10, 2003. It is the story of a traveling
shadow. It is an old-man-walking-down-the-road story. It has a
sculpted base to rest upon which can be yours if you act now.
* * *
See what I mean? Pretty fucking amazing. She’s a great writer. A great poet.
Sometimes it seems like her poems are like driving a dark road at night. You don’t know where it’s going. You can only see as far as your headlights. But then the moon comes out….and you can see for miles and miles. And new vistas, undreamed moments before, open up.
Okay, now you’ve read Catherine Wing.
Now go out and buy her book so you can read it again. Reread it. And all the other ones.
Life is too short not to do otherwise.
What are you waiting for? The road is a long one….and the moon hasn’t come out yet. You’ve got a long ways to go. But you’ve got time.
Maybe I’ll see you along the way.