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Monday, October 19, 2015

Curious Habits of Famous Writers

I was looking for unusual facts abut writers and came across this site. I thought I'd share what I found. Hopefully you find it interesting, too.

Edgar Allan Poe, wrote his final drafts on separate pieces of paper attached into a running scroll with sealing wax.

Jack Kerouac was especially partial to scrolling: In 1951, planning the book for years and amassing ample notes in his journals, he wrote On The Road in one feverish burst, letting it pour onto pages taped together into one enormously long strip of paper — a format he thought lent itself particularly well to his project, since it allowed him to maintain his rapid pace without pausing to reload the typewriter at the end of each page. When he was done, he marched into his editor Robert Giroux’s office and proudly spun out the scroll across the floor. The result, however, was equal parts comical and tragic:

To [Kerouac’s] dismay, Giroux focused on the unusual packaging. He asked, “But Jack, how can you make corrections on a manuscript like that?” Giroux recalled saying, “Jack, you know you have to cut this up. It has to be edited.” Kerouac left the office in a rage. It took several years for Kerouac’s agent, Sterling Lord, to finally find a home for the book.

James Joyce wrote lying on his stomach in bed, with a large blue pencil, clad in a white coat, and composed most of Finnegan’s Wake with crayon pieces on cardboard. But this was a matter more of pragmatism than of superstition or vain idiosyncrasy: He was nearly blind. His childhood myopia developed into severe eye problems by his twenties. To make matters worse, he developed rheumatic fever when he was twenty-five, which resulted in a painful eye condition called iritis. By 1930, he had undergone twenty-five eye surgeries, none of which improved his sight. The large crayons thus helped him see what he was writing, and the white coat helped reflect more light onto the page at night.

Virginia Woolf was equally opinionated about the right way to write as she was about the right way to read. In her twenties, she spent two and a half hours every morning writing, on a three-and-half-foot tall desk with an angled top that allowed her to look at her work both up-close and from afar. But according to her nephew, Woolf’s prescient version of today’s trendy standing desk was less a practical matter than a symptom of her sibling rivalry with her sister.
Woolf remained incredibly resourceful — an inventor of sorts, even. After she switched from standing to sitting, she created a contraption of which she was very proud: She used a piece of thin plywood as a writing board, to which she attached a tray for pens and ink so she wouldn’t have to get up and disrupt her flow of inspiration should she run out of materials.
Driven by a similar fear of depletion of materials, John Steinbeck, who liked to write his drafts in pencil, always kept exactly twelve perfectly sharpened pencils on his desk. He used them so heavily that his editor had to send him round pencils to alleviate the calluses Steinbeck had developed on his hands from the traditional hexagonal ones.

More information can be found at https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/09/23/odd-type-writers/

7 comments:

  1. Utterly fascinating, Beverley. My quirk is basic yellow mechanical pencils. I have a mug stuffed with them.

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    1. I love it. I use mechanical pencils, but only a few and any color will do.

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  2. And I thought I was weird. Glad to know I'm in good company. (My most enduring quirk: Writing with the TV on, usually Chopped or Criminal Minds.)
    Trevann Rogers

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    1. Now that one I can relate to. And let's face it, if we talk to ourselves we start with being weird.

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  3. What a fun post. I'm glad I'm not the only one with quirks. I have to write in bed on my laptop. The dogs curled up with me.

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    1. Now that sounds like a delightful picture. I love that we're all quirky.

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  4. I knew about the scroll and Poe because my hubby was a big fan of his. Maybe we all have quirks - some are just quirkier than others.

    :-)
    E.

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