Monday, June 28, 2010

Mentor Monday: The Whens

I know writers who write only when inspiration comes.  How would Isaac Stern play if he played the violin only when he felt like it?  He would be lousy . . . the same is true for art of every type. 

                                      -- Madeleine L'Engle

I write only when I feel like it and whenever I feel like it.  I do it in a restaurant, on a plane, on a train in a car.  I wake up in the middle of the night to make notes to myself and never know when I'll sit down at the typewriter -- or the tape recorder.  The new book stays with me all the time . . . I think the longest uninterrupted stretch I ever had was twenty-seven hours.  I produced nineteen pages of the Painted Bird, which in the drafts that followed shrank to one page.  On an average, I probably produce about a page, maybe a page and a half, in a sitting.

                                         -- Jerzy Kosinski

In this profession you have to write something every day, because language is hard to control . . . You have to work five hours a day, even if you just describe what your milk dealer says.

                                          -- Use Johnson

Every morning between 9 and 12, I go to my room and sit before a piece of paper.  Many times, I just sit for three hours with no ideas coming to me.  But I know one thing: If an idea does come between 9 and 12 I am there ready for it.

               -- Flannery O'Connor

When I sit down to write -- that's between nine and twelve every morning, and I have never incidentally, written a line in the afternoon or night -- when I sit down at my table to write, I never know what it's going to be till I'm underway.  I trust in inspiration, which sometimes comes and sometimes doesn't.  But I don't sit back waiting for it.  I work every day.

                          -- Alberto Moravia

Perhaps it would be better not to be a writer, but if you must, then write.  You feel dull, you have a headache, nobody loves you, write.  If all feels hopeless, if that famous 'inspiration' will not come, write.  If you are a genius, you'll make your own rules, but if not -- and the odds are clearly against it -- go to your desk, no matter what your mood, face the very challenge of the paper -- write.

                              -- J. B. Priestley


Barbara said...

Gee, two of them wrote between 9-12. Are those the magical hours? And what did they do if inspiration struck at 7:45 p.m?

Andrea Murphy said...

Okay, so I was curious about Moravia and did a quick Google. Take the following with a grain of salt (it's from Wikipedia), but if it's true, it's fascinating.

"Moravia did not finish conventional schooling because, at the age of nine, he contracted tuberculosis of the bone that confined him to bed for five years. He spent three years at home, and two in a sanatorium at Cortina d'Ampezzo, in northeastern Italy. Moravia was an intelligent boy and devoted himself to reading books: some of his favourite authors included Dostoevsky, Joyce, Ariosto, Goldoni, Shakespeare, Molière, Mallarmé. He learned French and German, and wrote poems in both languages.

In 1925 he left the sanatorium and moved to Brixen, where he wrote his first novel, Gli Indifferenti (Time of Indifference), published in 1929."

I think we have the secret to authorial success here. Get really sick and drop out of school at the age of 9. Spend 5 years in bed reading some pretty hefty tomes. Start writing your first serious novel at age 18. Publish it at the advanced age of 22.

If I could only turn back time.

I'm Jet . . . said...

Victor and Mildred Goetzel wrote a book called Cradles of Eminence. The book looks at what they (and others) consider contributing factors to gifted behavior.

Among those factors? Lengthy illnesses as a child, thought to force the child to slow down and use and develop intellectual skills.

Others are:

Homes which respected learning and achievement
opinionative parents
failure-prone fathers
dominating mothers, but few dominating fathers
smothering mothers
children who had handicaps
early agonies
dislike of school and school teachers