Sunday, February 06, 2005

Some thoughts on reading and writing

Total pages this week: 5.2
Running total: 5.2

Yes, I actually got some writing done this morning. I'm planning another round this afternoon. I took yesterday off instead of today. I had one too many beers Friday night, which left me not exactly hungover, but definitely tired. I'm not sure I'll reach my goal of 15 pages this week, but by god, I'm going to try. I got a little over 2 pages this morning and can probably do a little more than that this afternoon and maybe after the Super Bowl game (go, Eagles!), I can get another few pages done. The count starts at zero again tomorrow.

Some things have struck me over the last 24 hours while reading for my writing and reading The Tipping Point. First, I had been contemplating the lack of having a room of my own a while back. It really does affect my ability to write. I was thinking how stupid this was. I should just get off my kiester and write, desk be damned. But it does matter and Malcolm Gladwell confirmed that for me when writing about the power of context. In the first section that he writes about this point, he simply points out that context, our physical environment can affect our psychological state. He uses the disarray and degradaton of the New York subway system in the 80s as one example of a context that made people feel that committing a crime was okay--because it looked like the kind of place where one would commit crimes. He also used the experiment at Stanford where they created a prison environment and showed how quickly people began acting like prisoners and guards.

Now I don't feel like I'm in the NYC subway of the 80s or a prison, but the dark, cramped environment is not conducive to good work. I'm never going to be neat, but if I have the space to move the piles off to the side and keep the mess at bay until I'm ready to deal with it, I can function quite well. I do this it at work and I'm fine. Purple Elephant commented thus:
Is there any way you could make that little corner 'yours' in some way? Maybe hang some pictures / photos that inspire you, or some scented candles, something like that. I've also heard that Basil, Rosemary and Peppermint essential oils are good for concentration.
What a wonderful idea! Mr. Geeky is ready to help assemble some better space for me, including perhaps a new desk, but in the meantime, I think I can begin to take a little more control over the situation and create a better context in which to write.

Interestingly, the novel I'm working on has as its main character a woman writer (from the 17th c.). I was re-reading some sections of The Book of the Courtier to help me with a dialogue section where several characters are talking about whether it's appropriate for women to write (talk about context!). Here are some key passages that interested me. Amazing how these ideas are still around:
Now that women are unperfect creatures and consequently of less woorthiness then men, and not apt to conceive those vertues that they are, I pourpose not to affirme it, bicause the prowesse of the Ladies were inough to make me a lyer. Yet this I saye unto you, that most wise men have left in writinge, that nature, bicause she is
alwaies set and bent to make thinges most perfect, if she coulde, woulde continuallye bring furth men, and whan a woman is borne, it is a slacknes or default of nature, and contrary to that she would do. As it is also seene in one borne blinde, lame, or with some other impediment, and in trees manye frutes that never ripen: even so may a woman be said to be a creature brought furth at a chaunce and by happe, and that it is so, marke me the woorkes of the man and the woman, and by them make your proof of the perfection of ech of them.
i.e. woman is an aberration
Whens commeth it that naturally the woman alwaies loveth the man, that hath bine the first to receive of her, amorous pleasures? And contrariwise the man hateth the woman that hath bine the first to coople in that wise with him? and addinge therto the cause, affirmeth it to be this: For that in this act, the woman receyveth of the man perfection, and the man of the woman imperfection: and therfore everie man naturallye loveth the thinge that maketh him perfect: and hateth that maketh him unperfect. And beeside this a great argument of the perfection of the man, and of the imperfection of the woman, is, that generallye everye woman wisheth she were a man, by a certein provocation of nature, that teacheth her to wishe for her perfection.
My favorite part is that a woman wishes to be a man. Geez. There's lots more. I have the Penguin version which has a little bit more modernized English. It still captures the essence well.