Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writing 13 hours a day

While in New Jersey, Rob and Lori took us to one of their favorite spots - Sunnyside - the home of Washington Irving, US's first internationally famous author. He is best remembered for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.

The house and gardens are evocative of the Romantic movement in mid-19th Century America. Set in picturesque scenery, purposely designed to accentuate the beauty of natural landscape, the house almost organically grows out of the soil. A lady, dressed in 1850's costume took us around the (surprisingly) small home. and enthusiastically loaded us with more detail than we could retain.

However, the first room on the right struck me the most. It was Washington Irving's study, with 90% original fittings and fixtures. Lining two walls were books, including copies of his own. His writing desk, complete with candles, oil lamp, coffee pot and cup with saucer was placed center. Our guide explained how extraordinarily hospitable this life-long bachelor was, and how accessible he remained to anyone who would knock at his front door. Yet, she said: " He wrote at that desk 13 hours a day, especially when he was completing the biography of George Washington."

As a (very) small time writer I was staggered. 13 hours a day! Was that right? I checked with her. She seemed a little hesitant in light of my surprise, but she firmly restated: 'Yes, 13 hours a day.'

Opening my lap top to continue work on my worship manuscript this statistic troubles me. 8 hours a day of creative work on my manuscript is a very good outcome for me! Perhaps I will be motivated to yet greater discipline. Anyway, I will open up some of the areas I am presently writing on in future blogs. Looking forward to your responses, as always.


wsuriano said...


And Hemmingway supposedly wrote nude, standing at a typewriter. Your "method" is unique and produces wonderful results. Don't fret about what others did or are doing.

dss said...

Since we know he was a bachelor without the cares and responsibilities of a husband and a parent (even an "empty nest" parent with children and grandchildren on two continents), we might guess that he might not have written thirteen hours a day if he had been married. Maybe that's one reason that he decided not to marry, but that's not a life for many and in my opinion no fun. Nevertheless, I'm sure that you want to have solid blocks of time to focus on writing so that you can complete your current book, but we can all tell that you cherish your times with children and grandchildren, friends and the benefit you derive from teaching. I agree with wsuriano, don’t compare; you’re accountable to God, and I guess your publisher.

MichaelQuicke said...

Thanks for the encouragement...though Hemingway's technique is certainly not on my shortlist of possibilities.