Friday, June 6, 2008

How writers write.

I write daily on a Smith Corona SL 580 from midnight to two a.m., mostly to the sounds of classical music, no doubt a throwback to my mother's constant pianoforte cocooning me from the first, even in the womb. I respond best to piano music, so there must be something in my theory. I had never realized that, say, 350 mornings times three pages approximates 1,000. It doesn't feel like much effort or much prose. If you have spent years delivering a weekly essay, as I did, this is more or less the way your mind works. I have always been able to sense the rhythm of the next five sentences and sometimes, so as not to lose it, chant it out in pseudo-language. If I felt like a freak as a child, imagine how much of a freak I feel now.
Paul West

I write on to a computer - I like the rhythm of the keyboard - and I draft and redraft endlessly. It always amuses me when people say 'I did six drafts.' How can they draw a line, six times, and call those pages 'a draft.' The book never becomes a stable object for me - if I had the chance now I would rewrite again.
Anne Enright

(I write) … directly into an Apple notebook. I've been writing one way or another since I was ten and learned to use a typewriter at fifteen, so the keyboard feels natural to me. The advantage of the computer is being able to do endless versions, but this is also the main disadvantage. You are never obliged to commit yourself. If I get stuck, or am traveling, or out in nature, I carry a notebook and write with a fountain pen, usually a Rotring Newton 600 with hexagonal barrel, but the best fountain pen I have at the moment is a Bic. The hand-written sentences flow faster with less reflection and contain ideas that haven't been intercepted by the busybody editor in the brain. The computer makes it possible to achieve deep layering, but one has to be careful. As Kingsley Amis used to say, overworked prose has 'a whiff of the lamp.'
Indra Sinha

A room of one's own in which to write: it's an old and chronically romanticized idea – the solitary space, with an ashtray, an Olivetti, the morning light just so. Each writer has his own preferences and fetishes, of course. For Marcel Proust, it was walls insulated with cork, to keep sound out. For Saul Bellow, a tilted drafting table, so that he could write standing up. John Cheever looked out a window facing the woods; Nathaniel Hawthorne turned his back on one. Joseph Heller worked atop a shag carpet. The ideal persists, in a wireless age. Amy Tan surrounds herself with furniture from imperial China.
Ben McGrath

Superstitiously, Jonathan Franzen writes sitting in a beaten-up old leather office chair that he scavenged off a street in 1982. A.M. Homes claims that she cannot write without the view of a tree. Or natural light. To find the right words, Joyce Carol Oates needs the comfort and consolation of art and paintings. Michel Faber is more demanding: ‘An HB pencil sharpened exactly halfway between sharpness and bluntness. A beloved old office chair with armrests at a 25° angle. A cup of filter coffee, served at exactly 8:15 in the morning, along with a blueberry Danish from my favorite baker.’ Neil LaBute counts on the inspiration of Frank Sinatra's LP ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’ to invoke his muse. Chef Anthony Bourdain needs to smoke cigarettes. (‘No smokes? No writing.’) Will Self is a Post-it notes freak, sticking them in relevant zones on a wall and then organizing them into scrapbooks that become novels. Nicholson Baker can only work by wearing orange Mack's earplugs.
Alexander Theroux

Me? I sit for an hour in my office at the end of the day looking at the ocean and whatever comes into my mind goes out in this blog.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love it! Keep it up!