Porcelain and Alabaster…

Porcelain and Alabaster…


…are Perry Janes’s two least favorite words in the English language. Finally, someone else who has a weird relationship with words – either a strong aversion to some or an oddly powerful interest in the effects of others. Last night, Perry said that he loves “science” words and his poetry is often really scientific because he loves the science lexicon – it clearly creates some pretty awesome writing opportunities. His discussion made me think of how much I loved the book Stiff by Mary Roach, a book that explores the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. I think I loved the book so much for the same reason Perry enjoys writing scientific poetry: the research that is involved and the strange world the words inside present makes it so interesting to read. If you’ve ever wondered what happens to your body when you die (and what people can do with it!), it’s a really good/funny/informative read and I highly recommend it:

I think what I appreciated the most last night was how open both writers were. Melody and Perry were so honest and willing to share their writing processes and how they got to where they are now (well hey, if you won 6 Hopwood awards as an undergraduate like Perry, wouldn’t you be proud to brag?). It’s such an amazing and intimate experience to hear a working or successful writer talk about their experiences, especially if you’ve read something they’ve written and want to get inside the mind of the person who wrote it. I was also appalled at how much they each had to say about their own writing – could you talk about your writing for an hour to complete strangers? Perhaps my incredulity is a sign of how I still have a lot to learn about my own writing, which is something I think we’re all starting to do with this class.


Last night, Shelley asked Perry something along the lines of, “What is enjoyable about a life dedicated to writing?” and Perry responded: “Well… I’m not quite sure it’s enjoyable.” I think our experience of writing the “Why I Write” essay was helpful in understanding why someone so successful in writing would say such a thing. Even if it’s not enjoyable, there is a reason we continue to do it, whether it’s to get us thinking, to cope with life experience, to relieve stress, etc. Writing isn’t easy… but isn’t it so worth it?

One thought to “Porcelain and Alabaster…”

  1. Allie, I never thought about it this way, but you were absolutely right. We hear other people discussing their writing processes, works in progress, and end products. But what if we had to do the same? I’m quite sure I can summarize my writing experience in a few minutes. It may be something along the lines of “I force myself to sit down and write until I cannot anymore, and then I agonize over it for days or weeks – depending on the deadline – oh, and the deadline is probably one of the only things that push me to finally ‘finish’ writing.” What do you think enables a person to honestly reflect on his/her writing and to be able to talk about it?

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