Posted in Of Writingly

Of Writing With The Blood

Writing (and Blood/Ink Splatter?)

“Play with the blood.” – Rodrigo, Mozart In The Jungle

I’ve been watching a show called Mozart In The Jungle, which is a comedy about classical music. I’ve talked about this before in a blog post called Of Blood and Passion, but the actor who plays Rodrigo, Gael Garcia Bernal, goes on and on about “playing with the blood” when talking about true musicianship. I don’t know whether the idea comes from the show, or from Bernal himself. The character struggles with it even as he preaches it, but it made me think about how it can be applied to my own life – how do I “play with the blood” in my writing?

If I were being completely truthful about it, my writing is anaemic. I don’t roar, I whimper. I don’t fight, I grovel most unwillingly. I’m even beginning to realise, maybe it shows I’m meant to be amateur. If I had the currency of your choice for every time I didn’t submit a piece of writing to some person or establishment who/that specializes in publishing writing, I’d be a rich woman. I don’t play with the blood. I am too busy worrying how to dress the wound, how much would it cost to get a tetanus injection, do I have to get tests done, how do I fit in the wound logistically when it comes to living my life…

You don’t have time for doubts like these when you play with the blood! You just keep trying, keep demanding to be heard, until you are heard. You don’t complain about not being able to do it on a blog for 2.5 years. You do it. You do it. You do it. And Repeat.

This blog was initially supposed to be a book, an idea I conceived of in 2012. I started blogging it properly in 2014. I wrote the book of it finally in 2015. I’ve gone through several edits of that manuscript, but it’s still to be published. A month ago, this Of Opinions project seemed so past its prime, writing such personality-driven essays seemed so mundane, that I believed it had run its course. No use trying to flog, uh, gently pat a dead horse.

See, I can’t even quit with the blood! I can’t finish this, and go do something else, or do this properly. Perhaps, it’s plain old procrastination (you know, that more interesting word for ‘lazy’). A reason for procrastinating is simply because you don’t want to do it. And I guess, I am so unsure of letting this Of Opinions thing out of the stable (to continue with the horse metaphor) and into the big bad world of Kindle publishing that I’d rather just let it lie here in potential internet oblivion.

As for the craft itself, writing with the blood would practically entail, apart from an unquestioned desperation – cleverness, erudition and flow. No, those are not some hoity-toity adjectives for hoity-toity literary novels, they apply to everything that’s valued in contemporary literature. However, to really, truly, write with the blood you would need to graduate to a higher level of – rawness and simplicity. I am not going to name them since our tastes might differ, but the true masters of this art embody these two qualities thoroughly. We don’t admire them for their knowledge or how clever they are with their plot, characters, lines etc. We admire them because they write with the blood – it is completely authentic, there is nothing self-consciously done about it.

I’d love it if my Spanish-knowing readers here could enlighten me on this “playing with the blood” idea, if it exists in your cultures at all. I find myself quite obsessed with it.

What drives you to make your art?



Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

5 thoughts on “Of Writing With The Blood

  1. The books I publish are mostly non-fic, so I’m not sure how to write with the blood in those. When I write lyrics, however, I think that “writing with the blood” means just being as honest as I can to the emotions I’m trying to express, not leaving room to think about whether I look or sound stupid, cheesy or silly as I do so. Easier said than done, of course!

    ~Tui aka @TuiSnider on Twitter dropping by via #MondayBlogs

    Nice to bump into a fellow Kate Bush fan, btw!

    1. Yay! Always happy to meet fellow Kate Bush fans!

      I guess writing with the blood will entail being thoroughly enthusiastic about whatever you do. Frankly, I guess we need to play with the blood when it comes to living life itself, before writing with it. I remember I used to do it before (having thankless parts in the theatre, for example), but we tend to weigh things more, think about the pro’s and con’s before doing it as we get older.

      You’re so right about the lyric writing. I always think I am too sentimental when I write things of that nature. But, I am being truthful with it!

      Thank you for reading and sharing!

  2. I think I know what you mean. I know the struggle you have had here lately. Honestly I think the same thing too. Right now, even though I should be inspired by lots of music that I got for Christmas, I don’t have too many ideas right now. On the photography side I have not really been able to get some new shots either. As to the writing, I want to sit down and write, but I’m not finding the time. When I’m really on a roll, the ideas I have practically consume me, and I feel like I am an artist/writer and I suppose, play with the blood. When they are not there, I feel like someone who has a blog and a couple of hundred followers and a nice support network and nothing more. Either one is okay really. But I wish I could toss everything aside and work on this, and work on my planned book and play with the blood. I guess the main point I am making is that it is very hard to play with the blood with outside distractions. I’m curious to see some of the other replies here though!

    1. You know, I find inspiration comes when you’re not looking for it. People like Neil Gaiman talk about the need for daydreaming (I quite like the American expression “spacing out”). Just allowing your mind to wander, be relaxed. Studies have shown how inspiration comes most easily when you do these things (or rather, don’t do anything at all!). Of course, I personally believe you also have to be on the look out for it, especially when you are busy. Or you could try divergent thinking, which is something I am too lazy to do, and get inspired consciously by focusing on one object – say the daily prompts here on WP. Just some ideas!

      1. I very much agree! I have started on what I hope to be a particularly good post but I’m taking my time with it. I have other ideas too but I do the balance you mention here-spacing out yet also keeping my mind open for that aha moment. Actually that aha moment comes in the voice of Alan Partridge, but that’s another story! One of the reasons I started my Monochrome Mondays was so that I could easily still stay in ‘the game’ even if I wasn’t writing much. So it helps keep me connected. Not to mention that I know there is a lot of inspiration to come in the new music I have purchased/been gifted recently ready to come out!

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