My day begins around 7am. I will wake, rise (yawning reveille) and proceed to read the news as I eat my breakfast (almost always tea and toast). Once beyond morning ablutions I will generally continue to read for an hour or so if I don’t have more pressing matters to attend to. The act of reading, while relaxing and pleasurable, is an important step in my writing day. This early stimulus can often be the difference between enjoying a good day’s work and not. However, I am sure to vary this morning routine occasionally, preferably with a walk, both for the joy that’s to be had in the natural world (I live in a beautiful rural area) and to avoid remaining cloistered in the chambers of my skull. While not strictly ritualistic I do have a tendency to become lodged in routine, a trait generally expected in those many decades my senior. Fortunately, my partner is particularly adept at extricating me from these pitfalls (it doesn’t hurt that I love her tremendously either), even if at times I am reluctant.
From then I will write, often starting with editing some previous work unless I am feeling particularly inspired by something new. I imagine we have all experienced moments when we have almost sprung out of bed, salivating insanely and bursting with energy to begin the task we have before us. If not in this state of high enthusiasm, I find the editing process a good exercise to bring me into the correct mindset required to write something new, if, indeed, I have anything new to write.
While some writers are fortunate in their abilities to work enthusiastically and proficiently as a matter of course, I require a particular mindset in order to work to my utmost. I find it a combination both of my manner as well as the experimental nature of my writing which requires this. The nature of my work entails my getting behind the images, so to speak, to think in a way tuned to particular creative frequencies which are, perhaps, not conducive to the day to day processes of life. It is a mindset which I have only experienced, outside of writing, through meditation (and indeed, I consider my writing to be an act of meditation). Sometimes to my frustration it is beyond my reach. On such days I will remain productive by editing or working on forms of writing for which this mindset is not required (essays, reviews, etc.) as I like to write every day if possible. I’ll do this until about midday when I stop for a brief break, eat lunch and then get back to it. I will then continue to work until sometime in the afternoon (depending on how driven or how susceptible to procrastination I am). After that I do as I wish (more often than not this is more reading).
I live with my partner in a rather small house (just two rooms and a bathroom) and so don’t possess any of the fine writing desks or offices many other writers do. Instead I simply write in the comfort of my old fashioned green chair. A gift from my father once owned by a now deceased friend of his, an academic of Australian literature, that he hoped would bring me luck and inspiration. And while I cannot speak to any miraculous effects brought on by the chair, it is indeed a comfortable place to sit, laptop on knees, and quietly work.
And indeed the quiet it vital. Like many writers I need it in order to work effectively. It is ideal then that I live more than an hour outside the nearest city in a small, fairly secluded rural area. Certainly a tranquil and beautiful place to live. Most noises here are confined to the laughter of the kookaburras, my partner’s singing and the occasional car. It makes for an idyllic and comfortable setting largely free from distraction. I remember being in a state of awe having read that the poet Frank O’Hara was capable of writing even in the midst of roaring parties. A great gift. If only to be so fortunate.