Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Past of writing - writers on writing

What are some of your writing habits? Do you use a desk? Do you write on a machine?

I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don't use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.

The Paris Review, Issue 16, 1957

"Honestly, I still can't wait to get my pants on in the morning," Friedman said. He wakes early, then exercises on a stationary bike, and if he has a column in the paper that day he'll read it through online two or three times, asking himself, "Did I get it right?" On weekdays, he'll head into D.C. for a seven-thirty breakfast meeting, which is sometimes followed by an eight-thirty breakfast meeting. The Times has a floor and a half of a building a few blocks north of the White House, and three of the four Op-Ed columnists who are based in Washington--Friedman, David Brooks, and Maureen Dowd, whom Friedman calls his closest friend on the paper--have offices at one end of an open-plan news floor. "I see him every few weeks or months, passing through on his way to Fez," Dowd recently said. Friedman's large corner office has windows that are oddly small and high, leaving wide areas of wall space. He has hung a poster of a three-masted sailing ship tipping off the edge of a flat world, which he bought long before he wrote "The World Is Flat"--attracted, in part, by the title, which is "I Told You So."

The New Yorker, November 10, 2008

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