here are some thoughts by the composer roger sessions and the poet robert bly. i'm a great believer in this notion of a pre-conscious emotional channel in us all. music and poetry both try to evoke the "emotional energy" that lives there.
"What the music does is animate the emotion; the music, in other words, develops and moves on a level that is essentially below the level of conscious emotion. Its realm is that of emotional energy rather than that of emotion in the specific sense."
— Roger Sessions, The Musical Experience of Composer, Performer, Listener, Princeton University Press, 1971, pp. 24
"And what are notes? When sounds are absorbed and shaped by and inside, say, a string quartet, they contain almost no life stuff. Notes are pure sound vibrations connected apparently to feelings (but not to experiences) that resonate somewhere inside us. During the Well-Tempered Clavichord we feel 'feelings' that we seem not to have felt in daily life. There is evidently a layer of consciousness that runs alongside our life, above or below, but is not it. Perhaps it is older. Certain works of art make it their aim to rise up and pierce this layer, or layers. Or they open to allow 'memories' from this layer in."
— Robert Bly, TruthBarriers: poems by Tomas Tranströmer, trans. Robert Bly, Sierra Club Books, 1980, from the introduction, pp. 9
the world of publishing is transforming. i've been really influenced by a couple of talks by mark coker, the founder of smashwords.com -- they're a free ePublishing platform dedicated to ePublishing any author who wants to publish. they distribute through apple iBooks, barnes & noble, and other places so that writers can easily get the eyes of the world on their writing. (amazon kdp is free too and smashwords encourages using multiple publishing platforms). but it's crucial to know how to market your work electronically and smashwords has a lot of info to help with that.
in the "old" days, according to mark, print publishers were and still are in the business of making money, not publishing good writing. so even if you wrote the most brilliant stuff, if you couldn't find a publisher who thought they could make money selling your stuff, you were rejected, a "failed" author. in those days self-publishing was looked down on and thought of as "vanity" publishing. no more. indie ePublishing is blossoming -- smashwords has published more than 300,000 works and who knows how many amazon has published.
that means there's a lot of indie ePubs out there, a lot more good and a lot more bad. but it basically means that you -- the reader -- gets to decide what to read, so we're not subject to print publishers who are trying to push their quarterly profits by solely printing books they think will make them bucks.
so what's that mean for the notion of the global tribes of "editors" doing print quality assurance?
that's a lot like the process of "peer review" in the worlds of scientific and academic publishing.
in those worlds your career watchwords are "publish or perish".
but peer review seems to be falling by the wayside there, as well. in the academic and scientific domains, peer-reviewed publication by profit-making publishers or organization-controlled journals is fast being outpaced by self-publishing in online journals.
true, to some extent quality control may be sacrificed, but for the scientific community it means that new results get out much, much faster than ever before. that means peer review has been more-or-less replaced by the honor system in science and academia. we've all read newspaper horror stories of scientific work that was faked, or unduly influenced by profit-making research sponsors. peer review cannot guarantee that scientific work is honest and high quality. neither can literary editors "approve" new work that everybody wants to read.
so what we're giving up with indie ePublishing is an illusory feeling of sacrosanct editorial approval, and what we're gaining is democratized publishing so that writers can now get their work out there directly to readers. again, there's a lot more bad stuff out there, and a lot more good stuff. but it's the readers who get to decide what they will read.
and there's a lot of people reading eBooks: iBooks for one has a billion potential worldwide customers, and add to that amazon -- you can get kindle software for OS X, windows, IOS and android, so you can read kindle eBooks on just about any platform, desktop web or
mobile -- and barnes & noble.
don't forget that there's still the tradition of post-publication reviews. every eBook store lets readers comment on the books they sell, and there are still the tribes of editors out there who'll read you're stuff and let us know what they think. so the big change is that rather than reviewers acting as publication gatekeepers, now your post-publication reviews will influence your published eBook sales.
since i got to california and started to re-focus on writing, i find that my work has gotten simplified and pared down, with a spare vocabulary and lots of repetition. here's an example of one of my recent poems:
for each poem in realtime babies i generated raw material — a big block of words formed by randomly recombining stream of consciousness texts, quite often using the emerging randomly selected phrases as a composition starting point. i'd choose the phrases i'd want to use and throw away many that didn’t seem to fit. i'd often get a phrase and revise it on the fly. maybe there were bits that i felt were funny, bits that were surprising juxtapositions, bits pointing somewhere interesting, and bits i had no idea what they meant, but the sound and rhythm seemed to fit into the word flow
i then read these new texts and often found several themes to go after. maybe i couldn’t articulate such themes or even understand them. but i had chunks of something — maybe i was afraid of mom hitting me when i was little, maybe i wanted to love this girl, maybe some event wounded me. from then on i'd craft the final poem — paying attention to rhythm, sound, and meaningful moments. i'd flow by sonic rhythm from moment to moment, and try to end with a punch line — a lyrical, mysterious resting place.