My try at the Cut-Up Method
(also called the Fold-in)
This one page piece came from three pages of journal entries. I printed the pages, cut them up the middle vertically, then
across horizontally. I then laid out the pieces on the table and randomly moved them around. I then taped the pieces together
so that I would not be tempted to interrupt the spontaneity of their random placement. I then typed the resulting document
verbatim. I then edited that complete text by removing words, some whole sentences, and adding a word here or there for coherence.
The paragraph arrangement I did not change other than to add paragraph indentation.
Went to bed at 8 or so. We watched a movie with supporting people – all more treacherous than the last. I live my
own strange life. Sometimes I read back through this stuff thinking as I watch that it is very hard to think. Trying to read,
record anything of value. I write about this house, it has too many people in it. I should have been one of those not afraid
to share her every thought. Talking, talking, talking. I can’t think straight, I know it so well that I feel like it
won’t come out and everyone wants to know my most private thoughts. Little old lady who holes up in her room and realizes
how I don’t fit in. What is she up to? Every wall covered with books. I could stay in here all day and I have. So I
live books and books and books.
My topic for the day is "Make a list of…". In one section there is the night as I fall asleep. I thought it funny,
I was thinking about this topic in one place and I would want to go to another. We’re all alone. There’s nothing.
I don’t want to go anywhere. My immediate thought was this crushing knowledge. We repress. I doubt I would have the
energy to show how well you think you know me. I close myself off to everyone. Some people do it better than others. No one
notices anyway. I have mourned the issue by filling myself with sleep. Other people just muddle me up and I realize what crap
it is. At some bizarre time, all my defenses will crumble and I will have been reading too much Neitscze.
How quickly I rush in to cover myself. The book, scarcely pausing to explain meaning in life…why bother? If you live
you can see that people have always believed. But I don’t think it will be a good choice of books for covering the point.
But that is our topic. To live here we call this Higher Power God out by writing on loose-leaf paper. This just sent me reeling
further down into the inadequacies of organized religion. The Native Americans had no organized Great Spirit. I am sick to
death of trying to help.
Messenger turned off – it is just me. Where is your favorite place to hide? Is it possible for us to be alone? In
a little place always gravitating towards dark corners - to my books and my writing. I know that I need to recreate my life
and start over. But I don’t think that will do a damn thing. Characters say "You don’t know how to read to me".
How do we deal with our minds these days…we disguise, we bury, we exclude. Some can’t think straight anymore.
So, I wonder, is this my problem?
Silly for me to even make a list. I cannot repress as well as others do. Existential stuff…there is no mind watching
it. They didn’t care. You die and there is nothing else. Too intense. I don’t think so at all. I keep studying
ancient mythology over and over again – and then just wait. Which leads me to realize in a Higher Power. In this society
no one would understand. To be left naked and vulnerable to the world. I spent two days reading basic pieces of knowledge
that have turned people off to God. Cover up, cover up. They all believed in the building backup of fallen walls. It is shared
by the people who surround me. Abyss.
And literature, you have no interest in me. I just flounder around without tapping the major crux of the matter. Maybe
I should just keep my mouth shut. How can we undo all the damage? Some live as the primitives and trust in the morning when
everyone is asleep I have just forgotten what I am doing here. Which just goes to show that in the next life we are somehow
always alone. I don’t understand myself.
by Karen Hamilton
You can also try the method on your computer:
I took the first page of a short story that I was working on and divided it into two columns in MS Word. I then noted that
the text on the page covered 9 vertical inches on the page so I highlighted 4 ½ inches of the text in the first column and
then copied and pasted it to a new document. I then did the same with the remaining 4 ½ inches of the first column and so
forth with the second column. I ended up with with four separate squares of text. I moved the #4 to first postion and #1 to
fourth position. I then swapped #2 and #3 with one another. Then I formatted the result into one column of text. I did delete
about ten words in all from here and there, added no more than three words, and arranged the paragraph indents but did no
Here it is (the working title is "Mei-Mei":
The nurse went away and she was left alone, drifting in between gray clouds of soft gauze. She knew she was alone then
and it was comforting, a familiar feeling in an alien place. Just before the bubble in her brain burst, pushing her brain
violently against her brain stem and ending her life, she wondered silently to the cotton ceiling, "What happened to my story?"
The wall was a myriad of things – objects, photos, cut out magazine pictures, headlines, random words, scraps of
fabric, and pieces of stone and glass. This was her storyboard. In some forgotten time and place she had lost herself. Did
it begin after marriage? Did it begin in childhood? Or had it taken place at birth? She was misplaced, a character out of
mythical time that didn’t quite fit anymore, a fairy child stolen away from the mists of the willow tree branches and
that was fitting too.
Them praying to their God and her in that hospital bed alone. They wouldn’t understand how fitting it was. The nurse
came to tell her that she had a heart attack and they had to do surgery to unclog the artery and her family was all there
– where, she wondered – and that it would all be okay. Okay. Then the nurse went away and she was left alone,
drifting in between gray clouds of soft gauze.
She was forced to live in a humans made up world. Every morning she took her cup of coffee and tiptoed to the storyboard.
She silently walked it from one end to the other and then from center to periphery. It was the only way she had to remind
herself of who she was. She died alone. Which is how she always felt so it seemed fitting at the time. Her family was right
outside the door, holding vigil, praying to a God she had never quite been able to believe in.