I can’t believe today was Jack Kerouac’s birthday and I almost missed it. On The Road is definitely one of my favorite books. I love Kerouac’s free-flow style and way of describing things that was so distinctly his own. Whenever I read it, it’s so hard not to imitate it. I have to be careful.
I first started reading On The Road back when I was stuck in a hospital for a week having stomach problems. It helped to get me through, and gave me that desire once I got out to get back into writing, taking a chance on my own unique style for telling stories. That was when I got busy on my Poor Percival Stories. Nothing inspires me to start writing like reading a good book, especially one with a truly unique writing style. There’s no substitute.
Kerouac laid out some writing tips which he called “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.” Some of them are a little out there and even I’m not sure what they mean. But they sound cool. And other ones are pure awesomeness. Look at #29. Yep, that’s right. I think he was on to something. I don’t think he followed #3 very much. But they’re just guidelines, so…it’s OK.
- Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
- Submissive to everything, open, listening
- Try never get drunk outside yr own house
- Be in love with yr life
- Something that you feel will find its own form
- Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
- Blow as deep as you want to blow
- Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
- The unspeakable visions of the individual
- No time for poetry but exactly what is
- Visionary tics shivering in the chest
- In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
- Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
- Like Proust be an old teahead of time
- Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
- The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
- Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
- Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
- Accept loss forever
- Believe in the holy contour of life
- Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
- Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
- Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
- No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
- Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
- Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
- In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
- Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
- You’re a Genius all the time
- Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
And here’s a video of him reading one of my favorite passages from On The Road. I would love to have an audio book version of him reading the entire book. Sadly, of course, that will never be.
Happy birthday, Jack.