Fiction Daily.
A blog on writing, writers and why we read. Posted most mornings by Marion Blackburn.
On indolence
Or, I really am working. Really.

Already 8:30 a.m. and I've managed only to make a to-do list for today. One of them is an hour on the novel, but I have deadline projects now and will also need to pick up a short-story booklet at the print shop I've had made.

These days, if you're not sitting in front of a computer pecking away, it's hard to explain just what you're doing of value.

In a larger sense, writers are often considered dreamers and even loafers. Jack Kerouac deplored the so-called "work ethic" that caused people to work for money they turned around and spent, then worked, then spent.

Kerouac never declared a formal philosophy about it, but looking at his work and life, you see he never really had his own home, or not for very long. He constantly moved. He had few possessions. His life, then, was writing.

Other writers have lived this way. Often, they're considered bums (many of them are, like Bukowski, but what prose!) They are often criminals (Oscar Wilde, Tom Verlaine, Jean Genet) and drug- or alcohol-abusers (Truman Capote).

It's almost impossible to reflect about what brings meaning to your life, to your loved ones and to the world. In some ways, it's better not to think too much. Yet, we can all benefit from some big-picture thinking.

That certainly applies to writing. In my office, I now have a small sofa. It's where I sit, read, make notes or just think -- away from the screen and keyboard, telephone or desk.

I sometimes do my best "writing" in my head when I'm running or swimming laps at the pool. I sometimes go to bed quite early so I can lie there and think, and often do, for hours.

What a picture of indolence that is.

Writing is an act of "production," but it abhors the concept of manufacturing. It more closely resembles the act of "blooming," which occurs only after weeks and sometimes years of preparation.

TOMORROW: Guest blogger Gene Downs, on reading Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris. Bring out the hankies.

2008-01-15 13:39:53 GMT
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