Saturday, 15 October 2011

Weird Writing

How do you write? Any weird habits?  A favourite position (ooo, er missus)? Do you need complete silence, or do you rock out to Black Sabbath? Or can’t you even think about it until you have 3 coffees, melba toast and a wee dod of caviar? (Aye, right.)

Truman Capote, who arguably wrote the best true crime “novel” ever, couldn’t write unless he was lying down, in bed or on a couch with a cigarette and a coffee. As the day progressed he moved from coffee to mint tea to martinis. As he described it, he had to be puffing and sipping.

Hemingway used to write 500 words every morning, to avoid the heat. Living in Scotland, I SO don’t have that problem.  He is quoted as saying he wrote one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit and that he aimed to put the shit in the wastebasket. I’m thinking the toilet would have been preferable.

Nabokov wrote his novels on index cards – they would then be paper-clipped together and stored in wee boxes. In the Paris Review he said he liked lined Bristol cards and well-sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers. We call erasers rubbers in these here parts. Which could cause all kinds of confusion and does cause all kinds of sniggering in classrooms around the country.

Thomas Clayton Wolfe, the early 20th century novelist (no, I’ve never heard of him either) was so tall he used to write leaning over a refrigerator.

Ben Franklin liked to write in the bath.

Voltaire used to place his parchment on the back of his naked lover.

John Cheever only had one suit, so he would go to his writing space, hang his suit up and write in his boxers.

So go on, fess up – when your (creative) juices start flowing what weird habits do you have?


  1. Got to be down the Caff, at my corner table. TV blaring above my head, card players hurling abuse at each other behind me. I'm oblivious to it all. I should point out that proofreading takes place at home in complete silence.

  2. Liking the sound of that, Andrew. If you're struggling to think of the right word are you ever tempted to turn and shout at the card players to STFU?

  3. I wonder if that dashing fella uses conditioner for that fur of his ...or maybe some fabric softener?

  4. Writers are howl-at-the-moon crazy.

    And so is Dezzy. :)

  5. I put the TV on, but put it on mute. Something has to be moving - maybe it's good chi, or maybe I'm batshit crazy, either is possible.

  6. Dezzy - I'm going with fabric softener. Works better on coarse hair, or so I've found.#koffs

    LG - oooowww, ooooowww, ooowwwww. (that's my lame-ass moon-howl, btw)

    Barb - whatever does it for you is fine by me. here's a thought: could you not pay the local kids to run back and forward past your window? It would save on electricity bills. And they'd only be kicking cans, getting drunk on buckie or using up all the txt allowance on their parents' phones. You would therefore be providing a public service. Win/ win.

    I just took that too far, didn't I?

  7. I like where you're going with this, but I live on the third floor...

  8. Barb, as soon as I pressed "post" I said to myself, I bet Barb lives in a flat. You could take your laptop onto the landing and get the kids to run the stairs?

  9. First of all, didn't we all hear last year that this was a picture of you before you cut the beard off? Hmm,

    Well, usually I write better by the bayou and this year I have the perfect little screened in canopy to keep the mosquitoes out. But lately I've been so distracted. One thing that always works is my fine point calligraphy ballpoint and a hard backed spiral notebook. Seems like it keeps the mind from getting too far ahead of the hand.

  10. Feet up on desk. Keyboard on lap. Silence. Anger if the phone goes. Resentment if I have to go to a meeting or something. And if the writing's going well, a blissful lack of awareness of where or who I am. (Then the bloody phone goes.)

  11. Bill, here's my advice - for what it's worth - change your tel number and don't let anyone know.