Friday, November 17, 2017

Adele Graf : writing process

Are you sure you want to be reading this? We’re all busy and always looking for pockets of time to work on our writing. Um, this is about my own particular writing process. Are you sure it’s a good use of your time to read it?

Fellow writers tell me that they take their writing time “off the top,” first thing in the morning. Or that they can’t wait to go on the next writers’ retreat, where they always get so much good writing done. Or that they love writing in Starbucks, with the hubbub of voices or conversations they overhear around them.

I’m happy that they’ve found what works for them. But what does it tell me about my own process?? We’re each a combination (victim?) of our metabolism, our upbringing, our introvert-extrovert quotient and the list goes on.

I happen to be a zombie in the morning and a powerhouse writer late at night. I need to snack every couple of hours, but only on certain foods. My energy drops at 4 pm. Can you relate to any of this?

I like to spread papers around me while I write, but in tidy piles I can identify. My imagination spills into my writing when my study is orderly. When it’s a mess, I can’t think. Can you?

I don’t write well under pressure, or in groups, so get almost nothing out of writers’ retreats. My best place to write is at home. When my brain goes blank from hours of writing, I can start cooking supper. Then back to my study, ready to write again. And – you guessed it, I’m an introvert who loves absolute silence for writing. A quiet house. A closed door.

I won’t take up any more of your time, except to mention one part of my writing process that might possibly be of general interest.

I try to have lots of writing projects, at various stages, on the go at once. That way, however much time, energy or brainpower I happen to have at any particular time of day, there’s always something I can do. Start a new draft, expand something recent, revise something new or older, edit, proofread, submit to a journal. And of course, read what others have written. But really, that’s just the way it works for me.

Adele Graf’s first poetry collection, math for couples (Guernica Editions), was published  in April 2017. Her first chapbook, a Baltic Friday early in grey (above/ground press), in August 2017. Her poetry has appeared in The Antigonish Review, CV2, The Dalhousie Review, EVENT, The Fiddlehead, Room and Vallum. She lives in Ottawa.

photo credit: Ed Overstreet

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gil McElroy : writing life

I’m one of those people who have great difficulty sitting still. ‘Twas ever thus, and I know when I was younger that I drove some of my teachers – and fellow students – nuts.

Nothing much has changed, I suppose, so sitting down at a desk or what have you so as to focus on writing is always fraught with difficulties. Since I don’t write with some particular subject or need in mind, I come to my writing by way of the line – something I’ve heard (or, more interestingly, mis-heard), read/mis-read, etc. and build from there, letting the poem take me where it might rather than the other way around. To me that’s more interesting and thus more likely to brave the rigors of sitting down before a keyboard and translating the words in my head into the motions of my fingers.

Over the course of the summer I’ve been somewhat homeless, boarding with a friend until I manage to find another apartment. I’m not a horrendous fuss-budget who needs things organized in a very specific way in terms of a place to write, but I do prefer a desk. Or a table – something with a surface on which I can put my notebooks, coffee, and some of the beach stones I keep just to touch and hold in my hand. And I prefer my desktop computer to my laptop in terms of something to write on.

Right now it’s a board – a chunk of wood laid across my lap. And it’s my laptop sitting atop said board sitting atop my thighs as I sit on my bed. I adjust. But I can only stand it for so long before I have to throw it all off and get up and move around, do something involving my body and not merely my head. So writing proceeds in fits and starts. But it’s always been that way. The only sustained, intensive periods of writing I’ve ever done, when I was held to my desk by an idea, was when I was working on Cold Comfort: Growing Up Cold War, the book about my father and growing up a military brat. I think best through my hands, through writing out words and sentences, and I learned years ago that writing about something is how I learn what I feel about it. It’s a process of discovery, and writing about my father in a sustained way was how I came to terms with who he was and how he fit into my life.

It’s different with poetry, though. It’s a process of discovery, to be sure, but discovery of something I’m making up as I go along. Does that make any sense at all? It has a very different feel about it, and it doesn’t root me physically in place. Sometimes I need to escape it, flee, just get the hell away and be someone else for a little while.

And oh yeah: I’ve never had an office, never had a separate room in which I do my writing. It’s always been a desk somewhere in some corner of some room (bed, living, etc.). I like it that way. I’ve never considered writing something so exotic, something so separate and apart from the rest of my life that I needed to wall myself off in an enclosure so as to do it. That would drive me nuts. I like being near and very much a part of the rest of my life when I try and turn ideas and thoughts into something my fingers can yield forth.

So, for the time being (until the start of October) my wooden board and laptop and rock will suffice.

(Postscript: October indeed found me in new living quarters, and my desk (actually, it’s two set at right-angles to one another) is, of course, in my living room, near my music, near my books, and right smack-dab in the middle of my life.  As it need be.)

Gil McElroy is a writer and artist currently living in Colborne, Ontario. He has a new chapbook coming out from Apt. 9 Press.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Day of Writing: j/j hastain: 10-16-17

0610-Soft caress and back tickle from T—gentle “diamond cheek”—ritual pulling me into form from sleep. Notice the smell in the room. Even—Beloved. Mix of pheromones is a reason to get up in the morning. Lighting just right so as to not have synesthesia kicking up (like winds in the room, seriously!). Several minutes simply adjusting from the dark of sleep to the subtle and soft lights of meditation in the bedchamber.

Decide not to record dream remnants—not much different of a narrative and not too disturbing upon initial consideration. What stands out from dream? The literal sensations of making love to a woman. Wetness between the legs. The woman in the dream—non-descript but Feminine.

0625-Begin candle-lighting ceremony. The list of these: Masculine Divine, Earth Mother, Aphrodite (of no moods), Starlight in The Cave, Christos and Miryam (Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine) Union, Bearded Grandmother/Crone, Beloved Union, Divine Feminine (in the literal chalice).

0635-Meditation calling in Mother God. Sense of the moving lights—slow churn. Getting into the rhythm of breath then overtly practicing Gnostic breath techniques.

Revelation begins to come through in which there is somatically some struggle between dark and light. A lesson comes from this. Lesson—cosmic form of care if I can approach it without resistance.


0725-Open blinds, welcome sun. Set up for calling in Father God.

0730-Calling in Father God/Bibliomancy of Kabbalah.

Teaching about Mary/Yeshua/Baptism –is “the light coming in from Above”—sense of the holding that water (Earth Mother) does during baptism. When light comes in the darkness in us rises to meet it and from that we experience rites when preparing for full embodiment of The Light Transmission.
Honor cleared stones. Put them in bra and in bag for the day.

Gather food together (what we cooked yesterday—such abundance!).

0810 or so head out door. Wear moon socks that match the state of the moon today.

Driving to work listen to 432 hz music for subliminal and subconscious dream corrective healings.
Get to work. Empty compost. Say hello to the guy who gets there around the same time I do every day. Quan Yin. Genuine eye entanglements. Human care.

Set apple to eat today on the work shrine. Water plants. Catch up on email.

Send Petra the link I wrote at Dispatches Online re her book Pearl Stitch (amazing book!) (Her book link:

0900ish-work on Priest/ess 7 pdf.

Continue revising Priest/ess 8 document in prep for pdf status. These books feel like little rebels or whores to me—whores of Gaia spores. I love them like one might love their own children. Past states alive and kicking now. Gratitude and awe to Spuyten Duyvil for understanding the full stretch of their emanation. They—a vessel that has gotten myself—as well as others—across dysphoric divides. Spuyten Duyvil link (such a cool press!:

Look over teacher training with Sandra Ingerman

1000 ish-Call Citi bank

Work on current manifestations in process document/continue visualizing manifestation box.

1030 Talk with T (reify the Mythic name/shape in which The Beloved will manifest in time and space today).

Work on Law/Logos piece in Priest/ess 20.

Writing/Day Job.

Psychically prepare (prayer and visualization) for Thursday ceremony at Temple enacting Ereshkigal/Inanna myth (called by Mother to be Ninshubur/need to get in sync with the sister embodying Inanna—last time I took part in this myth I killed Inanna (as I embodied Ereshkigal)—so—a significant difference re the ‘human’ position as the mythic human (Inanna) descends.

Reorientation is needed if I am not to be Inanna’s light bearer.

Psychopomp work on Uncle Daric’s post-death state. Work with ‘orbs of light’ energy/image to help him continue to near the veil and prepare to cross over. What could I use of the light dimensions to coax him through the veil?

Noon-Walk in fall leaves. Breathwork. Choreograph new song for Ecstatic Dance on Wednesday.
Eat homemade soup.

100-Reread Ingerman’s Soul Retrieval, Caitlyn Matthews’ Sophia, John Randolph Price’s The Abundance Book, William Buhlman’s The Secret of The Soul. Practice mind techniques.

More work day job/emails/Submissions reading.

0530-Happy hour with a friend/discuss pedagogy re Ecstatic Dance.

0830-Pick song to dance to when T gets home.

Relax and talk with T, Dance the daily lover’s dance.

0930-Head to bed/Night prayers/Clearings/Dream intentions.


j/j hastain
 is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j simply hopes to make the God/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning cycles of the moon.

j/j hastain is the inventor of The Mystical Sentence Projects and is author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press)Apophallation Sketches (MadHat Press), Luci: a Forbidden Soteriology (Black Radish Books), The Non-Novels (Spuyten Duyvil) The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance of Experimental Realisms, and Priest/ess. j/j’s writing has recently appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Apasiology, LunamopolisAufgabe, and Tarpaulin Sky.