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!