Friday, October 13, 2006

The perfect setting for writing

The perfect setting for writing of course varies from writer to writer.

The London Times recently asked eight famous writers about how and where they went about their work. Here's what William Boyd said:
I write in the London Library on St James’s Square and in my house in southwest France, but 75 per cent of my writing I do in my study at home in Chelsea, a medium-sized room, book-lined on two sides, floor to ceiling. The desk is in front of a large window that looks over Radnor Walk, where John Betjeman used to live. Mark Twain was round the corner, and George Eliot, and I can see the spire of the church that Dickens was married in. I used to write in pencil but after years of searching I found the killer writing implement: a Rotring, a German make, with a 0.2mm nylon nib. I write on A4 spiral-backed notebooks. Then I type it on to my computer.

I tend to write in the afternoons, between lunch and cocktail hour. I used to feel terrified about the house burning down and my manuscript being destroyed, so I kept it in the fridge. A fridge will protect anything, even an atomic bomb blast apparently.

I belong to that pre-computer generation, and a lot of my contemporaries still write in longhand — Julian Barnes, Martin Amis. I think there is something special about the brain-hand interface, certain cadences. I do notice a difference in prose style from stuff typed on to a screen. There is something about preserving that old connection. I am sure I will never let it go.

Click here to read the other responses.

Click here to read an excerpt from Boyd's most recent novel, Restless.

--Marshal Zeringue