Monday, March 25, 2019

Writing Rituals

My blog this week will have been written shortly before I left to attend and speak at the Virginia Festival of the Book on Saturday, March 23. Some of the other authors speaking during the Crime Wave Programs were Don Winslow, Stephen Mack Jones, William Boyle, Kellye Garrett, and Erica Wright, among many others.

By the time you read this, the event will be over and done. However, I’m writing before it happens. So, should I be writing this in the future tense or the past tense? And by the time this blog is posted, I’ll be in Winchester, VA, getting ready for a book signing event at the Winchester Book Gallery. It feels a little like one of those paradoxes that happen in time travel stories.

I’ve been following the other Type M blogs about learning how to type. I was going to follow in their footsteps, except my story is pretty straight forward. I knew from an early age that a typewriter was going to be instrumental in whatever I did in life, so I took a course in high school, learning how to touch type. Thank goodness because the letters have pretty much worn off the beat-up laptop I use to write my books.

Should I get a new one? Probably, but this one is lucky. This is the one that found an agent for me. This is the one that helped get me published.

Writing on it has become a ritual, along with listening to ambient music that’s little more than a low hum.

Is it unusual for a writer to have rituals? I don’t think so.

Ernest Hemingway wrote while standing up. He’d get out of bed at dawn, write furiously while standing at his typewriter, and then wander down to the local tavern to get hammered. His ritual, other than standing while writing was “done my noon, drunk by three”.

On the other hand, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Edith Wharton, George Orwell, and Truman Capote all wrote while lying in bed. Capote had a few other quirks as well. He wrote everything in longhand and was superstitious. He avoided hotel rooms and anything having a number that ended in “13”. He also avoided starting or ending a piece of writing on a Friday.

Gertrude Stein did most of her writing in a moving Model T Ford driven by her partner Alice Toklas.

Dr. Suess liked to wear an unusual hat while he wrote. He owned several hundred headpieces that he would try on until he felt creatively charged.

Charles Dickens would only sleep facing north. He carried a compass with him at all times, preferring sleeping with his head pointed toward the north pole.

John Cheever wrote while only wearing his underwear.

Victor Hugo wrote in the nude. It was rumored that Hugo would strip down, hand his clothing to a servant, and lock the door. He wouldn’t have his clothing returned until he was satisfied that he’d written something substantial.

So, the fact that I prefer to write on my beat-up laptop…that’s not so unusual after all. At least I write with my clothes on.


Rick Blechta said...

Great post, Tom!

I'm pretty sure we all have some sort of ritual.

In fact that's what my post today will be about when I get finished with it!

Charlotte Hinger said...

Loved this post Tom. Proves I'm not so crazy after all.