Reading Jack Remick's The Deification, I stumbled on page 208 when I came to a chapter, the only chapter in the novel, with a title instead of a number. The title: Taking Dictation. It's a pivotal chapter. The protagonist, Eddie Iturbi, takes dictation from the spirit of Jack Kerouac.
Later that same day at writing practice I met a new writer who asked about my notebook, an old style steno pad with pale green pages and a spiral at the top. Did you ever take dictation, you know, like in an office? he asked. I laughed. I just like the size, I said. It fits in any handbag. The cardboard front and back let me write anywhere and the spiral doesn't slow the slide of my hand across the page.
It wasn't until later that the synchronicity of these two encounters hit me.
At timed writing practice, we set the timer and write. Jack Remick calls it riding the mythic wave when you write from a place so deep that you're taking dictation from the subconscious mind. When your internal editor is turned off and energy flows through your pen, ink onto page, in such a way that when the timer sounds and you read your words, you wonder where they came from. That's the power of the mythic wave.
I wonder if back when I decided to take my first writing course, when I attended an orientation and found myself face to face with Jack Remick, when I stopped by Staples for supplies and picked up my first steno pad was I already in early training to ride the mythic wave and take dictation from the gods?
I'm not there yet. My balance is off and I fall off the board. My eyes, nose, lungs fill with water and I choke with rage. My internal editor tells me I'm writing crap and my pages are filled with crossed out words. But I keep trying because a single ride on the mythic wave, a single session of dictation, a single experience of losing oneself in the words, is addictive. Like a drug, it pulls me back to the writing table again and again, steno pad in hand, ready to take dictation.