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Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:46 pm
by DrBenway1210
Good evening from Brazil,

I'm currently spending my days and effort into something still unknown to me. Fingers typing with Bill as part of the initial influence. Have you guys written anything? If so, how Burroughs influenced it?

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:12 pm
by paranoiajack
I've written a handful of rather blah novels and I would say, for me, the Burroughs influence has to do more with what I call plot spice than actual technique. I don't think I could write a book the way Burroughs did, with all the copy-and-paste and cut-up stuff. Plot Spice is what I call things like pop-cultural (and even haute cultural) call-backs, references, allusions. In almost all of my books there is a fringe character that is overly paranoid in a Burroughsian way. Even then, as a reader, I gravitate more toward the Red Night Trilogy than the Nova Trilogy. I think it's because I came to Burroughs through JG Ballard, as they are both surrealists. I am not a surrealist, though I like to interject a little surreality into my stories. In contrast to how I use my Burroughs influence, from Ballard I took his razor-sharp and almost clinical descriptions of places and things. Ballard wrote terrain better than Hemingway, in my opinion.

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:20 am
by GLN
I always found Mr. Burroughs advice on learning to type to be valuable.

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:45 pm
by Graham Rae
Written plenty. Probably too WSB-headspinfluenced at the time.

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:46 pm
by Graham Rae
GLN wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:20 am
I always found Mr. Burroughs advice on learning to type to be valuable.
What was that advice? Cos he couldn't spell for shit, and his one-finger pecking pages of Naked Lunch are horrendous to look at, for pure lack of flow. Doesn't even put a space after a question mark.

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:05 pm
by johnny
Be prepared to spend a lot of time working alone. Be prepared to throw a lot away. Be prepared for rejection. Use cut ups sparingly like in a dream or altered states or even a different way to portray action.WSB pulled off massive experimental work in the Nova Trilogy but one must not expect to read a normal type work. IMO he made it work on that experimental level, in fact IMO no so-called Cyber-Punk novel has even come close to competing with those 3 books. I love those books but I must be in the mood to re-read them. For regular. WSB reading I prefer the Red Night Trilogy where he seemed to have boiled down everything he had ever learned and presented it in a coherent way for all readers. BTW a bunch of great writers were notoriously bad spellers, including Papa Hemingway. Mark Twain once said: "If there's only one way to spell a word, then I'd say there was something wrong with that word" WSB also was against things like "character development or plot" although plots did develop in his stream-of-consciousness style. Another thing I always liked (against typical advice) was to: "Always write about things you don't know about."

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:41 pm
by edward_de_vere
Another thing I always liked (against typical advice) was to: "Always write about things you don't know about."
I thought that his advice was to write what you know. In one of the essays in The Adding Machine, WSB says that more writers fail because they try to write about things they know nothing of first-hand than for any other reason. For instance, usually war and spy novels written by former soldiers and spies are superior to those written by their armchair counterparts.

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 12:49 pm
by johnny
Common sense tells you that if you were writing a spy story
it would be best to know something about the subject, but that shouldn't scare you away from
the subject. Cut-Ups would be one way to explore the terrain, and putting your mind into a spy trance. I remember him
saying it would be boring to be restricted to only be writing about what one knows. Besides didn't he
also say "You can't tell anyone anything they don't already know, but just didn't know
that they knew" ...? Artists who are strict conformists and only follow conventional wisdom can
be quite a bore. Contradictions in a creative man's thinking (depending on the circumstances) should be
expected. When's the last time you were on an alien planet or met a Mugwump?

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:16 pm
by johnny
Was WSB ever a spy, explorer, PI (well he did deliver some papers) a demon,time traveler, of a different ethnicity etc etc? No, he let his characters take over those roles, and then he likely learned from them.

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:05 pm
by edward_de_vere
Was WSB ever a spy, explorer, PI (well he did deliver some papers) a demon,time traveler, of a different ethnicity etc etc? No, he let his characters take over those roles, and then he likely learned from them.
I think that he was briefly a PI, and he was something of an explorer during his Yage days. He's convincing when he writes about these things, just as he's convincing in his portrayals of junkies and rent boys. When he tries his hand at sci-fi and various other genres, he's much less so.

Burroughs is probably the ultimate example of a writer who wrote about what he knew first-hand. All of his characters, at least those who aren't one-note caricatures, are basically variations on himself or those in his immediate social circle: socially alienated, bookish, homosexual drug users. WSB didn't even bother trying to create three dimensional characters outside of these parameters, perhaps because he knew that he couldn't convincingly write about what he didn't know or understand.
Common sense tells you that if you were writing a spy story
it would be best to know something about the subject, but that shouldn't scare you away from
the subject. Cut-Ups would be one way to explore the terrain, and putting your mind into a spy trance. I remember him
saying it would be boring to be restricted to only be writing about what one knows. Besides didn't he
also say "You can't tell anyone anything they don't already know, but just didn't know
that they knew" ...? Artists who are strict conformists and only follow conventional wisdom can
be quite a bore. Contradictions in a creative man's thinking (depending on the circumstances) should be
expected. When's the last time you were on an alien planet or met a Mugwump?
WSB's best writing came either from thinly veiled autobiography or from his inner psyche of dreams or hallucinations. He may never have met a mugwump, but I'm guessing he dreamed or hallucinated them before he wrote them.

As I said above, WSB's science fiction is either a parody of (already bad) pulp science fiction, or it falls flat. "Write what you know" applies in science fiction and fantasy more than anywhere else - the best science fiction writers, like Arthur C. Clarke, base their fiction on plausible physics and biology. In a sense great dystopian fiction works like Huxley's Brave New World do the same. Much of the rest is in the "little green men" genre because people write of things that they don't know.

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:39 pm
by johnny
To some extent I believe we're splitting hairs, with a little nit picking and simply difference in opinion. I's actually nice to see a discussion where getting down to basics we agree. He was not afraid to get info from the pro (snakes) or as you say dream his own versions. I asked him about working as a PI hoping to extract some juicy story but he brushed it away with "Oh nothing really, served some papers is all" Sounds more like processor server. Loved his great line when an exterminator "Got any bugs lady?"

Re: Bill as a writing influence

Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:07 pm
by johnny
He's influenced all of my books, including the latest: https://boldventurepress.com/exploding-memoir-the/