I attended Santa Barbara City College in 1991 and was assigned to read Jack Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums” and “On the Road” in Modern American Lit course. I read the first 20 pages of each book and fell asleep. Nothing happens, I thought. He just writes tedious details of everyday life. I needed a plot and characters with motivations (aren’t they the basic of writing a good story?) A week later, when the instructor read aloud several pages from “On the Road,” something hit me. That “something” was nothing I experienced in literature before: speed.
Kerouac’s prose constantly moves forward and hardly stops. As it keeps running faster, its weight gets lighter. This is how Kerouac sets himself free from his own writing.
I had tried to write like him, but failed. No, “failure” is not the right word. I just didn’t know why I wanted to write like him. During this trip in Taiwan, I pulled out a Rhodia notepad and started writing like Kerouac. “Don’t think, just write. Don’t choose, write down everything. Don’t revise, just move forward.” Soon did the movement of my own writing liberate me from my worries.