Process. Progress. Detritus.
One morning in early 2008 I took a photo of some lines I had scribbled in a notebook (where almost all my writing begins) and emailed it off to a colleague, asking his valued opinion about whether I should pursue that particular angle on a story of mine that we had been discussing. His response: "No. But this image has a lot going for it. Ditch the story and do something with the photo. It has its own life."
I designed a simple blog and stuck the image up on it and that was all that I put on there. Just one image. I didn't have an intention (I'm still not clear if I do). Then a few weeks later I added another one and then irregularly some more. I started sharing the blog with more people who knew my work and then started sharing the site to a broader and differing audience via various social media.
Now, almost a decade has passed in this experiment. The blog went through several changes in design and is now in the form of this site. Almost a thousand images and their transcriptions have ended up here. In that process of documenting how my writing begins, the entirety of my writing process has been changed. Almost every morning I will write in my notebooks to get myself going, then I'll snap an image of those beginning moments, then I post it onto A Rough Draft and transcribe the image often extending the writing, and editing as best I can in that brief time I have. This results in an inevitable second draft of each entry but also creates a repository I will work from—offline—as I have rarely come back to the posts to edit them on this site.
What you'll find here are hundreds of mornings of such a process. Some images get categorized by the novels I am working on, like Selector or The Recipients. Others, like We Didn't Get Very Far are part of an essay I am struggling to construct. The rest are just loosely gathered under headings that I only sometimes pretend to understand myself (below are brief descriptions of those headings that each link to the various areas of the site & below that is a list and links to where my work has been published). Few items are presented as linear and you might as well consider all of it as a fiction.
While I still have no conclusion as to what this site has become, I have been delighted by the handfuls of followers who write to me about what I am doing here. More pleasant is the surprising engagements I have had with dozens of people around the world who go out of there way at conferences or workshops to talk to me in person about my work, this process, and tell me of their own approaches to their writing.
However you found your way here, thank you. I hope you come back.
– Philip Swanstrom Shaw
• Songs of The Greatest Trochanter: I am the chief songwriter for an experimental ensemble entitled, The Greatest Trochanter, focused on making something akin to music. Here is where I stow some of the beginnings to lyrics or muse on about the challenge of participating in another form of artwork that truly deserves more than the attention we give it. Which is the primary reason we aren't very good. Yet.
• Squared Off in Ellipsis Zine, August, 2018
• In the Last Days of Our Future War in Catamaran Literary Reader, Spring 2018
• When I'm Having a Difficult Time Maintaining My Concentration with Regard to Certain Aspects of My Most Immediate Surroundings in Heavy Feather Review, Volume 5
• Slept Like. Woke Like. on Robert Lopez's No News Today – January 2015
• How we Used to Use Water: Blood of the World – Conversations Across Borders / Kahini Magazine – Collaborative cross-cultural writing project with noted Australian actor/writer, Ben Crisp – Fall 2012
• Our Statue on 10 Nerudova, Everywhere Magazine, October 2007