It's a book of photographs of famous writers at their work, and I thought I'd scan in some pages for you with quotations from the text so that you can have a vicarious peep into their writing lives. Then I thought, why not turn it into a quiz? Can you identify who's who in these wonderfully candid shots?
I'll put the answers in the comments section (a neat little trick of Lydia's!)
I just discovered a prayer for writers. ... It was written by Samuel Johnson on April 3, 1753, the day he began work on the second volume of the first dictionary of the English language. He was praying for himself. ... Anyway, this is the prayer: "O God, who hast hitherto supported me, enable me to proceed in this labour, and in the whole task of my present state; that when I shall render up, at the last day, an account of the talent committed to me, I may receive pardon ...."
The only thing I can say is that it takes place - or the best of it takes place in a sort of a vacuum. On the worst of mornings. On the least likely of mornings. When you expect nothing to happen. When the page is blank. When the mind is blank. Even in a state of depression of melancholia. And then, only with good luck ...
I don't take time off or make myself work; I have no work routine. I am compulsive about writing. I need to do it the way I need sleep and exercise and food and sex; I can go without it for a while, but then I need it.
I don't take notes; I don't outline; I don't do anything like that. I just flail away at the goddammed thing ... I'm a salami writer. I try to write good salami, but salami is salami. You can't sell it as caviar.
I surround myself with objects that carry with them a personal history - old books, bowls and boxes, splintering chairs and benches from imperial China. I imagine the people who once turned the pages or rubbed their palms on the surfaces.
Yes, I also love pre-loved books!