The Reality of Writing

May 10th, 2005 · 4 Comments
by Booksquare

Though we would never admit this to anyone, there is a major flaw in Firefox: things open in tabs remain available for reading all day long. Tabs don’t close themselves in disgust. Sometimes we take that step for them, but often we watch with sick fascination, wondering what we’re going to do with the article we clicked on in a moment of vague interest.

Chances are, we’ll move on (this sometimes takes days, which would normally worry us, but we’re distracted at the moment). Unless the article grows on us. Like this New York Times story about authors living the reality television lifestyle, sans cameras. It is no secret that writers have issues with sanity. Everyone has a cross to bear; mental illness is ours. But to actually take this step? We’re not sure. Maybe it’s our natural fear of failing in public.

On Saturday night, in front of 200 onlookers, Ms. Stone and two other novelists, ensconced in neighboring pods, embarked on a variation of the spectator sports made familiar by reality television. Ms. Stone, Ranbir Sidhu and Grant Bailie are the participants in “Novel: A Living Installation” at the Flux Factory, an artists’ collective in Long Island City. The goal is for each to complete a novel by June 4. The purpose is to consider the private and public aspects of writing.

Now, we’re enchanted with the idea of a writer’s retreat. Especially a catered retreat. We love catering. The entire world should be catered. This experiment, sadly, doesn’t seem to have much in common with a retreat. It feels more like the writer as a mouse in a maze.

What the novelists write is not as important as how they live while they are writing. Each habitat was designed by builders who, like the writers, entered a competition. The writers can emerge for only 90 minutes a day and must record on time cards the reason for their absence (laundry, bathroom, snacks). Each evening they will gather together to eat a meal cooked by a chef from a local restaurant.

File Under: Square Pegs

4 responses so far ↓

  • Anne Killpack // May 10, 2005 at 9:51 pm

    Habitat? As in “for hamsters”? Not unless it gets at least four stars.

    Gather in the evening for dinner? My best writing is done while picking at my food.

    No thanks. I too think “writer’s retreats” should be catered and include room service. And possibly a hot tub.

  • Booksquare // May 11, 2005 at 7:36 am

    Hot tubs are nice. They really get the brain working. I guess my real disgust stems from the notion that an adult is only allowed 90 minutes a day freedom. And must account for that time. What is the point of leaving high school?

    It will be interesting to see if this works for the people involved.

  • Mark A. Rayner // May 11, 2005 at 9:28 am

    OMG, this reminds me of that Monty Python sketch about watching Hardy write a novel, starting with a definite article…

    (Voice of Dennis) Well, this is true to form, no surprises there. He’s started five of his eleven novels to date with the definite article. We’ve had two of them with “it”, there’s been one “but”, two “ats”, one “and” and a “Dolores”(?). Oh, that , of course, was never published.

    (Voice of First Reporter) I’m sorry to interrupt you there, Dennis, but he’s crossed it out! Thomas Hardy here on the first day of his new novel has crossed out the only word he’s written so far, and he’s gazing off into space. Oh dear, he’s signed his name again.

    (Voice of Dennis) It looks like Tess of the D’Urbervilles all over again.

  • Booksquare // May 11, 2005 at 11:26 pm

    Mark, though I haven’t worked out the quote of the week rules for comments, you have won (knowing, of course, that the Booksquare quote of the week covers a wide range of time periods and concepts of quotes).

    Gazing off into space in Pasadena…