Pressurized Writing, Pushed Writing, Bound Writing

At the recent &Now Conference in Buffalo, NY, I sat on a panel about collaborative projects with John Dermot Woods, Johannes Göransson, and Tim Wood. And during the Q and A portion, there were several ideas raised about the collaborative process and its potential to partially limit or bind a writer – some comments even pointing out how we panelists saw this as a welcome challenge, a nice way to be forced in different directions.

This connects for me with the recent Big Other talks about contests and why we enter them. For me, the deadline, the limits, the boundaries, this is a way to goad my writing, to ask me down a new path, to push me where I haven’t been.

Yes notoriety, yes accolades and resume placement, yes money, but also: provocation. It is due right now, no exceptions, It must be under X words. It must include A, B, or C. I couldn’t write this way all the time, and I wouldn’t want to, but sometimes, it is the push that leads me on.

Do artists sometimes need to be bound, to be gagged, so that the material swells in us, so that we are pressed into something uncomfortable and fresh and sparking?