Friday, September 23, 2016

Wild and Weird
Fun With Quotes

So how, exactly does one have fun with quotes?
Glad you asked! If you’re like me, you start by exchanging quotes on a daily basis with your Best Bud. But not just any quotes, writing quotes, to give each other inspiration. And then you pick the two best quotes of the week to share with the rest of the world - because ... why not? :-D

For a change, I chose one of the longer quotes Jamie sent me last week. In fact, this was yesterday’s quote:

A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you can't catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, "Simba!"
― Annie Dillard

And isn’t that just the problem I’m having with one of my drafts lately? I let it sit for too long and now it’s gone feral. And taming it back into submission is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

While I’m an advocate for letting a finished draft sit for a couple of weeks before you go back to edit it, you really don’t want to do this while you’re still working on it. Granted sometimes you run into a roadblock of some kind where you get frustrated or blocked or have to rethink the entire story and have to set it aside for a while, but the longer you do this, the harder it will be to get back into it.

My own quote for the week has absolutely nothing to do with Jamie’s:

You know, it's hard work to write a book. I can't tell you how many times I really get going on an idea, then my quill breaks. Or I spill ink all over my writing tunic.
― Ellen DeGeneres

Okay, you might wonder why I chose this particular quote. It’s because of the image it evokes - the quill and the writing tunic. Though I haven’t written poetry in a while, I used to write a lot of it. What’s the first image that springs to mind when you think of a poet? Are you seeing the emaciated figure in the flowing poet’s shirt, using a quill and ink to scribble on parchment in a lonely attic? I see a Dante Gabriel Rossetti painting, or maybe one by John William Waterhouse - very dreamy and romantic.

I love reading about other writers’ writing habits. Barbara Cartland (author of over 700 books), for instance, always dressed to the nines and reclined on a divan while dictating her novels to a bevy of secretaries. Mark Twain wrote lying down in bed. So did George Orwell, Edith Wharton, and Truman Capote. Victor Hugo wrote naked.

On the other hand, Ernest Hemmingway liked to write standing up, as did Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, and Lewis Carroll. Wallace Stevens wrote his poetry on slips of paper while walking. James Joyce wrote most of Finnegans Wake using crayon pieces on cardboard while lying on his stomach in bed.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote his final drafts on separate pieces of paper made into a running scroll with sealing wax. John Steinbeck wrote his drafts in pencil and always had exactly 12 sharpened pencils on his desk. Vladimir Nabokov composed on index cards. Alexandre Dumas wrote in blue for his fiction, pink for non-fiction, and yellow for poetry.

The list goes on and on. Let's face it, we writers are a pretty strange bunch.

So ... what are some of your weird writing habits?

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