Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ways of Getting to Work

[Jason Mecier, Patricia Highsmith]

Her favourite technique to ease herself into the right frame of mind for work was to sit on her bed surrounded by cigarettes, ashtray, matches, a mug of coffee, a doughnut and an accompanying saucer of sugar. She had to avoid any sense of discipline and make the act of writing as pleasurable as possible. Her position, she noted, would be almost foetal and, indeed, her intention was to create, she said, 'a womb of her own.'
Andrew Wilson, Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith. 2003 (London: Bloomsbury, 2004) p. 123.

My brother insists that no-one addresses him first thing in the morning, for fear of destroying his carefully-fostered aesthetic dream-state.

I don't go quite that far, but I do find that a lot of undisciplined playing around on the computer is required before I can really get down to doing anything. It's very important not to identify it as "work," I find.

What about the rest of you?

NB: This is in response to an interesting post of Martin Edmond's at Luca Antara.

This is what you do:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people: (soon ...)


jen said...

yes, i tend to circle around over and over, like the cat when she can't get comfy... usually a duvet helps; and a hand on some reading material that 'opens', ie makes it seem possible; and tea, tea, tea, tea. congratulations on orange roughy doing so well!

Richard Taylor said...

Becasue I am bit myopic and also slightly crazy also - I tend to read what you have there as:

"Her favourite technique [was to] to erase herself into the right frame of mind..."

I do this all the time and have been for some time e.g with Headlines I keep misreading headlines...

A kind of creative misreading - a (subversive?) deconstruction?!

I suppose it is more common than I think or know..

Yes congrats for Orange Roughy's success!

Also the shell art etc is great with "message" of cigarettes in it so to speak...

If only smoking was not harmful (as it is clearly a peaceful and relaxing thing people do) -
my father died from lung cancer -the husband of my ex from throat and other cancer -he was quite younger than I - and my mother was certainly affected by years of heavy smoking... and it costs so much!

Because if is a statistical thing there are so many people who will still give a mass of examples of people who die or get ill who are fit and don't smoke or drink ad nauseam - completely missing the point of probabilities.

The other extreme is the Dudley Moore and Peter Cook of "Dagenham Dialogues" and all the absurd results of not doing or fulfilling certain superstitions "My Aunt Dolly forgot to turn the teapot round before she 'ad 'er cup of tea once - 50 years later she was killed by the number 54 bus to Chiswick..." and so on.

Richard Taylor said...

Jack - I missed the question - I don't play around on the computer (I do play around) - I used to always write on paper first - still do - but nowadays I am doing my Blog EYELIGHT and I work in semi organized semi-intuitive way as if I am composing music (but slowly, immensely slowly) - if that makes sense except its not music! Nor is really work I do! I mean its a kind of total composition that is what EYELIGHT is - partly..I am not "disciplined" and work only when I feel like it otherwise - nothing.

I have never sat down to write -I only write if I feel - a certain excitement or whatever it is - it hard to describe...

I am not interested in getting published as such -I just write so I don't care about deadlines or anything or who reads what I write or what they think of it (o.k. I care when I get a response and I have kind of imaginary audience in mind but beyond that I don't really mind (I have no illusions of "greatness" or "immortality" !!...) - or whether I even write so I suppose I'm very much the opposite of Martin Edmond... (his work is great BTW))

My laziness keeps me "oppositional" more or less by default (I think - perhaps I am fooling myself...) but I don't agonize over it all as Loney does or did - I can see his point in a way (I wish I had his fervour sometimes) ... but he takes it all too far(too seriously? -for me he is - but he is a good sort) ... I am very laid back (I keep changing my views of things (aesthetics, philosophy of writing etc) also - within certain limits I suppose) and I am a terrible example of how to work if work one can call it...

Nor do I want fame or whatever or even any "recognition" - all irrelevant to me - it is nice (wonderful) if such attention and interest comes but I don't seek it...e.g. I only sent poetry to couple of magazines recently because the editors asked for things and they were all old poems I had written...EYELIGHT is my main thing (its really like a hobby) those of you who work more systematically - please don't take any notice of me!!

I mostly write or do a lot of quite badly written old cobblers in any case...*

I wish I was more disciplined (for a few seconds) then I go back to going for walks or playing chess or having coffee or reading books or whatever... for me it is all just play - a part of my life. There is nothing so "serious" about it this creative stuff ... life is too short to worry about it...

In way with EYELIGHT I kind of circle around it also - I read and think for some time then I "strike" and so on...I am never quite sure what or why I am doing what I am doing if I am doing anything when I do anything or even when I don't; and nor am I sure what I will do next or whether or why or when.

I play - that's all I do.

P - L - A - Y !!

But yes I sometimes wish I was more systematic -and sometimes I get a vague feeling of panic and that motivates me to 'get going' ... but that happens not every day or anything.. I never know when that is going to happen..or affect me...

'manana' - I think I had Spanish forbears!

*No one who secretly (or openly) agrees with this needs to deny it I won e offended by strong support or a complete ignoral of of this statement!!

Chandra Garsson said...

Wonderful portrait, I imagine and I must do more research to see if cigarettes killed her. Thanks for posting Mercier's marvelous collage!

Jack Ross said...

My impression is that it was aplastic anaemia caused by alcoholism, but I'm certainly no expert on the matter ...