the quiet life of a writer yak yak yak

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I was an English major back in college. From the age of nineteen, for over a decade I devoured books. Thousands of them. And I always liked hearing the true-life stories about the authors who penned them.
I remember well, hearing all about two of my favorite writers, Hemingway and Graham Greene.
Though their books were very different from each other’s, their daily routines were quite similar, so I heard.
Basically, they’d live somewhere cheap, quiet and relatively conducive to getting a lot of writing done. The Florida Keys and Cuba in Hemingway’s case, the South of France in Greene’s.
They’d get up early each morning, then write diligently till noon.
Then they’d head for their local café, drink gallons of booze for hours on end, and stagger home late at night.
Then they’d do the same thing the next day. And the next. And the next. For years on end. Women came and went, friends came and went, children came and went, money and fame came and went, but the daily writing-booze combo remained the great constant.
I’m not sure I like the idea of staggering home drunk every night, but as somebody who likes to write, likes his beer, and likes the simple life, I can’t say I find their overall Modus Operandi unappealing.
I guess I’m currently finding my own equivalent here in Alpine, Texas, minus the copious amount of booze. In the back of my mind, I know one of the main reasons I worked so hard these last few years, is because I knew that one day this is exactly what I’d want to end up doing, far away from the big city, the madding crowd. And so here I am.

Comments

  1. Hi Hugh – Your post on the theme of great writers and timeless toasts provokes me to think of a favorite restaurant of mine, London’s oldest restaurant Rules. When I am in Covent Garden, I always book a reservation. Graham Greene visited so frequently that there a room named after him. The restaurant, over 200 years old, spans the reign of 9 monarchs. Today the surroundings are inspirational for writing and sketching. In the past literary greats such as Evelyn Waugh and Charles Dickens have all passed through its doors.

  2. “Change the world or go home.” What can you tell us about the Stormhoek situation?

  3. Reminds me of this quote I read yesterday “There are many hours left in the day, so comics tend to get comfortable. They start drinking, and it goes from there. You can see how comics lose control of their lives.” Full article at http://tinyurl.com/32o5d8 (warning, traditional media)

  4. Is this the good end of the ‘sex and cash’ theory?
    I grew up in the country, always wanting to break out into the big city, glamorous life. Looking back (not too far, mind you) I realize the quiet life isn’t so bad. Especially if you write.
    However, I know the experiences I’m gaining away from the quiet, humble writing life will fill up my well once I get back to it. I may only write three pages every morning, but I know those three pages are just super-charged, and the rest of my day the same.
    I hope your experience in the madding crowd fuels you now… good luck!

  5. I have friends that beg me to move to the “big” city, because they feel I’d have more opportunity. I always turn them down, “All that opportunity is just a distraction.” Speaking of distractions I think that the rest of the day will be spent soaking in the sun marinading in beer. ahhhh spring

  6. I’m happy for you, Hugh. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the quiet life as a writer, and Alpine seems like the perfect place for you right now. Sorry I didn’t get to meet you while you were here in Austin. Come back soon — when you need a break from writing and solitude.

  7. The part I’m wondering about is how Hemingway and Greene managed to get all that women, children, friends money and fame, in their little quiet places.
    Nice work if you can get it, I’m sure!

  8. That’s great! Few people get the chance to retire to the country and write. Have a Shiner Bock on me.

  9. vinny warren says:

    sounds idyllic. i envy you your freedom.

  10. Eight shades of green with envy. But I don’t begrudge you single quiet moment–you’ve earned it, friend.
    Stay off the hooch. We need your ornery, old ass around as long as possible.

  11. Creativity fuel = booze. Dreadful news to those hoping for inspiration from their new Mac. Great pics of the lone star state. Enjoy your peace!

  12. Sounds about right Hugh. I think writers naturally yearn for that simplicity that allows one to express more freely. The problem is that the job isn’t readily available to most people. Something I coined the the simplicity complex, we want to be able to not worry about anything and so we worry our lives away to get to the end destination…
    Perhaps the answer was in the question all along.
    Hemingway was king of simplicity. Beautiful, unadulterated simplicity.

  13. Michael Beymer says:

    Hemingway only spent 9 of his 61 years in Key West. In a particularly gruesome suicide, he rested the gun butt of the double-barreled shotgun on the floor of a hallway in his home, leaned over it to put the twin muzzles to his forehead just above the eyes, and pulled both triggers. If it’s any consolation to you, he bought the shotgun at Abercrombie and Fitch. That’s what I call marketing.
    Greene, also did not spend the majority of his writing life in Antibes. Both were avid travelers, both suffered from depression, what we now call bi-polarism. Since you show no particular skill in writing, I can’t help wondering if it’s their penchant for drink and susceptibility to depression that you relate to.
    And I always liked hearing the true-life stories about the authors who penned them. Lots of people like to write and lots of people like to drink, but that doesn’t make them good at either.
    Don’t make me get out the red pencil or bull.

  14. Michael Beymer says:

    Hemingway only spent 9 of his 61 years in Key West. In a particularly gruesome suicide, he rested the gun butt of the double-barreled shotgun on the floor of a hallway in his home, leaned over it to put the twin muzzles to his forehead just above the eyes, and pulled both triggers. If it’s any consolation to you, he bought the shotgun at Abercrombie and Fitch. That’s what I call marketing.
    Greene, also did not spend the majority of his writing life in Antibes. Both were avid travelers, both suffered from depression, what we now call bi-polarism. Since you show no particular skill in writing, I can’t help wondering if it’s their penchant for drink and susceptibility to depression that you relate to.
    And I always liked hearing the true-life stories about the authors who penned them. Lots of people like to write and lots of people like to drink, but that doesn’t make them good at either.
    Don’t make me get out the red pencil or bull.

  15. Crawford says:

    Serenity it where you find it, Hugh.
    Sounds like you have.
    Enjoy.

  16. Today id expect younger crowds to replace booze with weed… While both destroy your brain cells, booze also affects your liver.. but i digress.
    All in all sounds lovely to be able to do what you are doing.. But would you still be able to do so without the Internet, as a means to keep in touch with the World?
    And don’t you miss your friends whenever you go about you travels?
    Take care
    Your partner in crime
    Glenn

  17. Catherine says:

    Hello you! Delighted to see and hear you so happy!!
    Take care, C

  18. WARNING: Texas is going to seduce you if you don’t watch out. Looks like the west Texas voodoo is working a spell. There’s magic all over the state. Right now through the end of May is my favorite time of the year. Spring rocks.
    When are you going to dump the urban knit hat an go felt or straw? Straw season is coming and if you’ve worked in west Texas, you know what I mean. Until then, go get yerself a Resistol felt like the one I’m wearing in http://keithcombs.members.winisp.net/images/keith_combs.jpg and blend with the locals. Who knows, some cowgirl may come sit on your lap. :?)

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