Writing Rhythms

  ‘You writing anything at the moment?’

  ‘No, I’m having a rest.’

  ‘What, recharging your batteries?’

  ‘Well, I suppose you could say that, yes.’

  ‘Except the human body doesn’t have batteries.’

  ‘By which you mean?’

  ‘Well, all the writers I’ve read about wrote all the time, or said they did. Their vocation, you see. Couldn’t keep their hands off the quill, or biro, or typewriter, or-’

  ‘-Yes, yes, but nor did they have jobs, most of them. It can start to feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends – and I know the human body isn’t a candle – and it’s good to take it easy for a few weeks.’

  ‘Anthony Tr-’

  ‘Yes, I know that Anthony Trollope used to get up before he went to bed and write 2,500 words before popping into work to design a post box or two, but we aren’t all superhuman. It takes me three days to write so many words.’

  ‘It’s a lot of words. Graham Greene set his limit at 500 and-’

  ‘-Broke off mid-sentence, I know, I’ve tried that.’

  ‘Breaking off mid-sentence?’

  ‘Well, no, but sticking to 500 words. The trouble is that if it’s going well you want to carry on a bit longer. Who knows, the next day you might be too tired to write much.’

  ‘Ever tried writing lying down?’

  ‘What, like Mark Twain? I tried it once, but I fell asleep.’

  ‘Must’ve been riveting stuff.’

  ‘Not as funny as Mark Twain, perhaps. I’ve tried writing standing up too, like Hemingway, but I kept sitting down and forgot to stand up again.’

  ‘Not as tough as him then?’

  ‘No-one’s as tough as he made himself out to be. A lot of it was Dutch courage, though.’

  ‘He never drank while he was writing.’

  ‘Thank goodness for that. They’d have published it anyway.’

  ‘Victor Hugo wrote in the bath.’

  ‘He wouldn’t if he was around now; he’d electrocute himself.’

  ‘Some writers still use a pen, you know.’

  ‘I’ve tried that too, but my handwriting’s so lousy that I struggle to read it afterwards.’

  ‘Best not to try writing in the dark then, like Henry David Thoreau did when he couldn’t sleep.’

  ‘I’d be tempted to flick the light switch on.’

  ‘I suppose so. Anyway, if you’re not writing a book now, why don’t you do a bit of blogging? That’s all the rage nowadays.’

  ‘What? And use up my ideas! I don’t get so many of them, you know.’

  ‘Write this down, or up, then.’

  ‘I might just do that.’

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