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Writing in Public

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  • Writing in Public

    I am about to commence a strange project. In the next six hours or so I need to produce two scripts. I'm doing this in the office (actually the front room of the house) with the couple I live with and the TV on and phone ringing and all the usual trappings of everyday life. It will be a test of concentration, as I usually write dead alone without interruptions.

    This reminds me of stunts in the 1950's, when a writer or artist or other creative person would be in the window of a store doing their thing, gawked at like some sort of zoo creature in a cage.

    Mike, have you, or any others here, participated in such "storefront" writing? What was the result?
    ... just another sailor on the seas of Fate, dogpaddling desperately ...

  • #2
    ''Excuse me, sir, but we're closing now''


    • #3
      In France, some authors were famous for writing in cafés .......


      • #4
        There's a photo of Mike working with a typewriter on his lap at a gathering (party?) in the '60s. Used to be in the Image Gallery, but I can't find it in the Image Hive at the moment.
        _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
        _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
        _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
        _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


        • #5
          In his book Lemmy reports that Hawkwind's Robert Calvert once strapped a typewriter round his kneck, composed spontaneous passages while on stage, then crumpled up the compositions and cast them into the audience.


          • #6
            Now that's kewl!
            "Jerry Cornelius was based, for instance, on a young man I used to see around Notting Hill where there was also a greengrocer called Cornelius of London."

            --Michael Moorcock


            • #7
              Why does that "Novel Writing With Thomas Hardy" sketch from Monty Python suddenly come to mind?

              "...We've had the first word, 'the,' the definite article, nothing earth-shattering there...and now he's doodling again in the margin! How disappointing....."

              I wrote my lone, published-for-real-money short story between deliveries at a pizza place. Short of writing in the middle of a forest of jackhammers, I can't imagine too many places closer to bedlam.


              • #8
                I once wrote a song titled (I'm a) Flying Zombie, while performing a different song on stage (She's a Mover by the Sir Douglas Quintet) at the finish of the first song, immediately yelled out the new songs chords to the band, and then we played the song, the plot was a bit thin, but you could definately dance to it.
                "A man is no man who cannot have a fried mackerel when he has set his mind on it; and more especially when he has money in his pocket to pay for it." - E.A. Poe's NICHOLAS DUNKS; OR, FRIED MACKEREL FOR DINNER


                • #9
                  I used to write in nightclubs while partying. Drunk, obviously. The results were... erm... interesting.


                  • #10
                    Sitting writing in store windows was something Harlan Ellison did on occasion, I think.

                    I make most of my living from writing (nothing too exciting - mostly magazine journalism with the odd book and some online stuff now and then) and find that the distractions I can put up with vs. those I can't are quite specific. Someone playing a musical instrument within earshot - even if it's my son's thrashy guitar playing - doesn't disturb me at all. However, canned music of any kind - radio, hi-fi, whatever - even if it's barely audible - destroys my concentration completely. Background hubbub or general noise from cars, construction work or anything else washes straight over me, but the slightest direct interruption - 'Can I just ask you something?' - can wipe out my last half hour's thinking. Luckily, I'm also quite good at 'internal drafting' - I can pretty much get, say, a 3000-word article drafted in my head before writing anything down at all, which is a great time saver as I can do it when e.g. mowing the lawn!

                    Miqque, let us know what the result of this 'experiment' was - masterpiece or multiple murder?!

                    MM, if you happen to pick up on this, I recall a very funny piece you did for Punch (subsequently collected bookwise, but I forget where) in which you contrast a successful and an unsuccessful working day. Where do you sit on the distractability scale?
                    Last edited by Zax; 07-24-2006, 02:11 AM.


                    • #11
                      In my work as upper middle level manager, i am constantly disturbed by people who need instructions or help or signatures .......

                      The creative work is done before or after usual working hours ......


                      • #12
                        As a bohemian youth I used to write song lyrics in cafés. Now I have to do all my creative work in complete isolation or I get distracted. This usually means burning the midnight oil.


                        • #13
                          I write in absolute quiet, alone. When my girlfriend is over she reads or watches DVDs in the other room, and only bnothers me when it is feeding time. Revision, however, is another matter. I listen to music, sit on the couch and talk while going at it with the correction pen, sit in my car.... But then when it is time to sit at the computer and type the corrections in I have to be alone again--but music is Ok at this stage.

                          This summer I've worked at rest stops along the highway, in libraries, in restraunts at truck stops, in tents, sitting on picknick tables in the woods....

                          Somewhat related: correcting students' papers is best in a coffee shop, sitting in the window while the world goes by.... I've seen people writing in coffee shops, but I've always thought they looked miserable. Literary creation is an anti-social activity. The trick, as Swift says, is coming back down from the mountain: "To return and view the cheerful skies / In this the task and mighty labour lies". This is from Tale of a Tub so of course he might just be clowning around here....


                          • #14
                            I think for about three years I wrote in public much more than I did at home. Mostly at coffee shops. I think its just a question of taking all the stimulus - internal or external - and fictionalizing it. Also, espresso is very good for writing.



                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Carter Kaplan
                              I write in absolute quiet, alone. When my girlfriend is over she reads or watches DVDs in the other room, and only bnothers me when it is feeding time........

                              Feeding Time! That reminds me of the year 1999 and brings back fond memories of me playing Everquest for the first time. I forgot to eat,drink and take care of nature. haha (rations and water in the game don't count)

                              Anyway, I think it is a delightful idea to write with all that activity!

                              When I wrote a good bit to add to my friend's story, I listened to my stereo and things really flowed well. (of course that was more for fun)

                              "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
                              - Michael Moorcock