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Here's what I do: I use the surrealist technique of automatic writing to generate raw material. I then take that raw material and sift through it for elements that seem to be of particular concern to me. These elements will be repeated or related images, events, characters, or settings. Once I have this refined material, I analyze it to discover what it is about these elements that I'm trying to tell myself is of merit. Characters emerge, as do setting and narrative. This is the mechanism. This approach is not surrealism. It uses surrealist methods, though in a way I would imagine to be abhorrent ...