Monday, November 01, 2010

Going Grey Gardens

Do you watch Bored to Death? For those who may not be familiar with the HBO comedy, Jonathan Schwartzman’s character is a writer-slash-private detective, and last night’s episode opened with a scene of him in his apartment, working on a short story. The phone rings; a friend asks to come over. He hesitates before responding: “The place is very Grey Gardens at the moment. I’ve been writing.”

I hope I’m not the only person who understands too well what he means. And it got me thinking—not only about the mess that consumes my studio after a few marathon days at the computer, but also the eccentricities that I indulge while writing in that zone state. In particular, my hat. I bought it several years ago at an agricultural fair—a shapeless, floppy-brimmed number that’s meant to be worn at the beach. The color is a shade of denim better suited for the 1980s, and the logo on front sports three pigs parading in sequence, noses to the ground as if rooting for something to eat. Though I never start my writing day with the hat on, inevitably there comes a moment around hour four or five when I stand up—to stretch or to pace or, sometimes, to scream—then march over to my nightstand, grab the hat, and jam it on my head. I won’t go so far as to credit it with inspirational powers, but there’s something oddly comforting in having it on.

I’ve talked with a number of classmates about this hat, and most everyone can relate. I have one friend who wraps himself in a rainbow bathrobe a la Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat. Which brings me to the question: Does anyone else out there have an unusual writerly habit they’d like to share? It could be wardrobe-related, or a bit of routine that puts you in the creative frame of mind. I’d love to hear about it!

9 comments:

Jess Smith said...

You MUST post a picture of this hat for us all to see!

And I think this article speaks to exactly what you're saying (who knew D.H. Lawrence liked to climb trees naked before writing?):

http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/02/reviews/ackerman-poets.html

Vince said...

there's nothing like a one slice or three from a whole pie of pepperoni pizza from the local grease pit to get the mind going.

Sally Jane said...

I have a blue fuzzy plaid...well, "shirt" isn't really the right word. I think it was originally intended to be a shirt when I bought it at the Cross County Mall about 14 years ago. But it's the type of garment only a 250lb lumber jack could pull off. For me, it's more like a bathrobe. I wear it when I write, and when asked about it, I always say, "Have you seen that movie 'Wonder Boys'? Yeah, it's kinda like that."

Bryan said...

I have what I call my SRW (Smoking, Reading, Writing) time; I pack my favorite pipe, sit in my favorite chair in my favorite sunbeam, read and puff until said pipe is exhausted, then get to writing.

Makes me feel all mid-century scholarly.

Loren said...

"Going Grey Gardens" HA! Brilliant. Enjoyed the post.

Loren said...

"Going Grey Gardens" HA! Brilliant. Enjoyed the post.

Alexis Tonti said...

Jess, thank you for the link! A great read ... I definitely have gone the route of musical fixation. It's funny to look at my iTunes and see what pops up for most played. More often than not, there's a correlation to pieces that I've written.

reddmarcc said...

As crazy as it may seem, I light a candle when I really have to meet a deadline. I started this years ago in undergraduate for finals papers and, I dare say, I have conditioned myself to work with the vanilla scent.

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