Friday, 23 November 2012

Writing Routines

I came across this today

Maya Angelou shares her day with Paris Review in 1990:
I write in the morning and then go home about midday and take a shower, because writing, as you know, is very hard work, so you have to do a double ablution. Then I go out and shop — I’m a serious cook — and pretend to be normal. I play sane — Good morning! Fine, thank you. And you? And I go home. I prepare dinner for myself and if I have houseguests, I do the candles and the pretty music and all that. Then after all the dishes are moved away I read what I wrote that morning. And more often than not if I’ve done nine pages I may be able to save two and a half or three. That’s the cruelest time you know, to really admit that it doesn’t work. And to blue pencil it. When I finish maybe fifty pages and read them — fifty acceptable pages — it’s not too bad. I’ve had the same editor since 1967. Many times he has said to me over the years or asked me, Why would you use a semicolon instead of a colon? And many times over the years I have said to him things like: I will never speak to you again. Forever. Goodbye. That is it. Thank you very much. And I leave. Then I read the piece and I think of his suggestions. I send him a telegram that says, OK, so you’re right. So what? Don’t ever mention this to me again. If you do, I will never speak to you again. About two years ago I was visiting him and his wife in the Hamptons. I was at the end of a dining room table with a sit-down dinner of about fourteen people. Way at the end I said to someone, I sent him telegrams over the years. From the other end of the table he said, And I’ve kept every one! Brute! But the editing, one’s own editing, before the editor sees it, is the most important.
And it occurred to me that I don't really know what my writing routine is. Do I have one?

I know that I feel an urge to write everyday and I mean everyday, but the opportunity doesn't always present itself because the rest of my life has to have some space. Is this wrong of me? If I call myself a writer then shouldn't I have my laptop handy no matter what. Write a chapter in the cue at Asda? Am I a real writer?

My answer to me is yes you are and you've got notebooks, short stories, plot lines all over your office to prove it. (I always have a notebook with me). Just because my routine isn't written in stone, I shouldn't worry. I write. I write and I enjoy it when I do.

I'm working on my final edit of Holding Paradise before the publishing process gets going and I've been writing a collection of short stories which budged my second novel idea off top spot. I'll get back to that one when I get the short stories out of my system. Shouldn't be too long now.

So - when do I write? All the time, actually, but at no fixed time. It could be 4am, it could be after I've said goodnight to my husband, it's usually whenever I am alone in the house. One thing I know is, I love to write and if I could never find the time at all...well then I wouldn't be a writer.

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