I have been struggling all week to write a blog post and have been drawing a rather unfortunate blank. As I watched East Vancouver roll past the Skytrain window on my way home from work on Wednesday afternoon, I realized with a great deal of relief that I had already written a cheeky little piece of fiction about this very struggle (to which I’m sure we can all relate…..maybe….ha ha).
And so, for your reading pleasure, I give you, The Writer at Work.
The Writer at Work
Knowing the importance of sleep to an intellectual and productive mind, our friend the writer never rises before the sun. On this day, he opens his eyes at his accustomed hour intending to begin his labours at once, however, he feels the dream that had visited him just prior to his waking is of great artistic significance and therefore, for the sake of his work, he is forced to lie abed nearly three quarters of an hour more in an attempt to recapture it. Alas, the dream has escaped him. No matter. When one is blessed with genius such as his, brilliant visions are forever unfolding in one’s mind, in a never-ending parade of wit, pathos, and profundity. The formidable task of his life is to render these visions in writing so as not to deny the world their splendour.
Speaking of his task, our friend resolves to begin straightaway, though not, of course, before the completion of an elaborate toilet in which hair, face, and hands, especially, are carefully attended to. Our friend the writer has such deep respect for the pages which background his gleaming passages that he cannot abide those bohemian writers, hunching in ateliers, hair uncombed and face unshaved, ink-stained fingers marking the very pages they are trying to seduce! Inexcusable slovenliness, our friend thinks, and now, satisfactorily washed and dressed (albeit still in his red velvet dressing gown, one of those pet comforts which serve to aid his genius), he is ready to begin his work. He rings for Mrs. Pimms (his housekeeper) and requests his usual cup of tea.
Before beginning any actual writing, it is our friend’s wont to wander through the rooms of his elegant home, with his cup of tea in hand and the sash of his dressing gown trailing behind him. The symmetry and comfort of his fine rooms and furnishings pleases our friend immensely, knowing as he does the importance of an appropriate environment to the maintenance of the creative faculties. Indeed, one could not wish for a more suitable birthing place for new literature. So thinks our friend the writer as he opens the French doors of his parlour and steps out onto his veranda. His gardens too are pleasing to the senses, sweet-smelling and well proportioned. Not so much as a leaf or a blade of grass is out of place—the gardener is clearly as meticulous in his work as our friend is in his writing. Perhaps a god may understand how such men feel, lovingly perfecting the fruits of their labours! By now, the sun is shining rapturously overhead; the morning-time has passed.
“Fol de rol,” our friend hums, pattering his fingers on the sides of his dressing gown, “there is no greater inspiration than Mother Nature herself. I shall take my luncheon out of doors, yes, I believe this will be the best course of action, and I will tell Mrs. Pimms so at once. I have an excellent feeling about this day, it will be, I believe, quite productive.”
Our friend is possessed of a firm belief that as he endeavours to work, so must he live. Therefore, he does not rush his repast but savours each separate course, allowing himself ample time for digestion and enjoyment between them. One would not rush ahead to the next chapter before being perfectly satisfied with the first, no indeed! Such a process would be the mark of a sloppy artist and such is our friend’s devotion to his craft that he takes great pains to exercise the same thoroughness and care in all aspects of his daily routine. Consequently, it is nearly three o’clock before our friend’s slippered feet can be heard padding along the carpeted hall towards the door of his study.
And what a study! It is the crown jewel of our friend’s estate, its contents, both furniture and objects, judiciously selected and carefully aligned to allow for the maximum influence of the creative muse and the greatest ease of transference from idea to page. And books! Such a collection of books, both new and antiquarian, both famous and obscure. And such wisdom, such inspiration to be found in their pages! Our friend turns to them now, for who would begin his work without first feeding his mind, allowing it time for proper focus and concentration? He lifts a book from the shelf and begins to read, furrowing his brow as he does so.
“Ah, Aristotle, you old scoundrel!” he cries, throwing down the venerable tome with the knowing smile one reserves for the peculiarities of one’s intimates, “Homer old boy, what have you to say this afternoon?” He flips lovingly through the pages of the masterpiece, but simply cannot bring himself to read more than a few lines at once. “Excellent works to be sure,” as he often remarks to his acquaintances, “but much better in the Greek, ever so much better in the Greek. ‘Tis a pity I have only the translations, mere shadows of the original genius; I can hardly bear to read them.” On one occasion the host of a dinner party did indeed have a very fine old copy of Homer, and in the superior Greek no less, but alas on this particular evening our accomplished friend had forgotten to bring his glasses.
Our friend the writer has a very broad, very beautiful desk of carved mahogany, and he sits at it now, satisfied at last that his mind has achieved its proper alignment of focus. He retrieves a stack of paper from one mahogany drawer and places it carefully on the surface of his desk, smoothing it with his hands and noting its superior creamy texture (our friend does not work on cheap paper). Opening another drawer, our friend retrieves his ink bottles and pens, carefully wiping each with a cloth and then meticulously arranging these tools on his writing surface in the particular way which he finds most agreeable. He picks up a pen and settles deep into his chair, closing his eyes for a moment to invite the visions of his mind to hold sway. At last he is ready to begin.
When he opens his eyes, our friend the writer notices that the sun is beginning to lower into the trees outside his study window in a glory of crimson and blush. It is nearly time for dinner, and our friend never works after he sups, believing that to write by any light but sunlight would cause damage to his eyes. Another day of creation, therefore, is drawing to its inevitable close. “Ah,” he sighs, as one who bears the burden of a monumental talent, “a writer’s work is never done.”