Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I picked up a wonderful book called Page Fright:  Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers. A quick scan of the chapter headings intrigued me.

Here's a sample:

They Wrote Laying Down, Standing Up, Stark Naked

 Keep Out! Writer at Work!

Out of Their Mouths Popped Literature

I'm a Drunk with a Writing Problem

Horror Rolls In Like Some Poisonous Fog Bank

This entertaining book is full of fascinating, fun and curious anecdotes. I'll give you a taste!

*Isabel Allende always started work on a new novel on January 8.

*Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a chapter a day of Treasure Island and read it each night to his family.

*Thomas Hobbes wrote Dialogue on Physics or on the Nature of Air, using bedsheets for paper and when he'd used them up he scrawled on his thighs.

*Mark Twain told a reporter that he often lay in bed all day and wrote. He added that he'd spent whole weeks that way.

*E.B. White wrote standing up, usually in the middle of his living room.

*Playwright August Wilson had a punching bag suspended from the ceiling and "when the dialogue was popping, he'd stop, pivot, throw a barrage of punches, then turn back to work."

*The best  thing about being an author, according to Canadian novelist Will Ferguson, is "you get to work in your underwear and scratch yourself whenever you want. Try doing that in your standard office work environment."

* John Cheever worked in boxer shorts in a windowless storage room in the basement of their apartment building.

*Alistair MacLeod wrote on the right hand pages of cheap scribblers.

*Saul Bellow wrote The Adventures of Augie March in trains and in cafes.

* Victor Hugo wrote his last novel Ninety-Three in a glass cage on the roof of his mansion - at dawn and stark naked!

* John Grisham write his first novel in longhand on yellow legal paper.

*Emily Dickinson composed her first drafts on the backs of recipes, grocery lists and used envelopes.

That's only a tiny bit of what you'll find in Page Fright. If you get a chance, pick up a copy.  It's fun and fascinating!







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