Writers and their quirks

Dear Reader,

Thanks to Valerie Douglas I came upon a link to the Huffington Post which had a very amusing list of habits of writers of old. It’s so entertaining that I can’t keep it from you!

James Joyce

• Poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller was very particular about his writing process. He worked mostly at night and hung red curtains in his study so sunlight never illuminated the room. If he grew tired, Schiller would dip his feet in cold water so that he could stay awake and write. His most peculiar habit, however, involved fruit. He kept a drawer full of rotten apples in his study. The spoiled food created a stench that Schiller’s friend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe found repugnant. However, according to Schiller’s wife, he “could not live or work without” the awful aroma.

Alexandre Dumas, père, was a prolific writer, penning over three hundred works in his lifetime. Dumas once bet that he could finish a novel within three days, and won. Colors were essential to Dumas’ writing process. He wrote poetry on yellow paper, articles on pink, and novels on blue. When vacationing in Eastern Europe, Dumas was unable to replenish his stock of blue paper, and had to use cream pages. He was convinced the color change had a negative impact on his writing at the time.

Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame under duress. In the fall of 1830, he had a matter of months to finish the book. Every week he was late delivering the manuscript, Hugo would be fined 1,000 francs. To insure ultimate productivity, Hugo put himself under house arrest. He locked up his clothes and outfitted himself in a long gray shawl. If he couldn’t get dressed, then he couldn’t go out. It was an effective solution. In this unusual costume, Hugo raced toward, and ultimately met, his deadline.

Edgar Allan Poe had a beloved pet cat named Catterina. The affectionate feline would climb up and roost on Poe’s shoulders while he wrote. She would remain there, observed a visitor, “purring as if in complacent approval of the work proceeding under [her] supervision.”

• French novelist Colette was crazy about animals. Her enthusiasm for her pets prompted her second husband to complain, “When I enter a room where you’re alone with your animals, I feel I’m being indiscreet.” In fact, Colette had a creative ritual of plucking the fleas from Souci, her French bulldog, until she was ready to write.

Gertrude Stein found inspiration in the driver’s seat of her Model T Ford. Stein would wait in the car while her partner, Alice B. Toklas, ran errands. She jotted down poetry and prose on scraps of paper while busy Parisian traffic zipped by. Stein owned two Fords in her lifetime: the first she dubbed Auntie after a relative who “behaved fairly well most of the time if she was properly flattered,” and the second, which lacked any bells and whistles, was named Godiva, after the naked heroine.

• As a young writer Virginia Woolf preferred to stand while she wrote. Her desk was three and a half feet tall. Quentin Bell, Woolf’s nephew, concluded that the habit was spurred by sibling rivalry. Woolf’s sister Vanessa was an artist who painted at an easel. Bell noted, “This led Virginia to feel that her own pursuit might appear less arduous than that of her sister unless she set matters on a footing of equality.” Eventually Woolf transitioned from standing to sitting.

• In his late twenties, James Joyce wore a white coat while he worked. He’d put it on, climb into bed, and compose his work with a blue pencil. His sister Eileen noted that the coat “gave a kind of white light” that helped him see the page. Joyce battled eye diseases throughout his life. As his sight worsened, the resourceful author magnified his entire creative process, writing intricate sentences with colored crayons on large pieces of cardboard.

Agatha Christie had a specific demand for the bathroom of her mansion. She told her architect, “I want a big bath and I need a ledge because I like to eat apples.” This was not simply a luxury for the novelist. The bathtub was her prime work space. There, in the warm water, she devoured apples and devised intricate plots.

(Thanks to the Huffington Post for supplying this wonderful information!)


Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous.  (Winston Churchill loved them.)

  1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
  2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
  3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  8. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  10. Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a work station.
  11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
  12. In filling out an application, where it says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’
  13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
  17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  18. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  19. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.
  20. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
  21. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  23. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  25. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  26. Where there’s a will, there are relatives.
  27. I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now


The devil and his diary

Dear reader,

Long time ago I wrote a very silly thing in 30 chapters. It was my work for Nanowrimo, and I had decided to write 30 days of the Devil’s Diary. What started out as a what do I care, as long as it’s words project, turned into a ‘story’ with lots of details about all kinds of things, mixed with my own warped fantasy of how things could be in hell.

A while ago I dug out the original manuscript and looked it over. Now I have spent time on brushing it up, formatting it into something more comprehensible, and all that comes with editing. A good thing is that reading it again after so much time made me laugh and grin in places. It won’t be very long before the book is ready to go out to Smashwords, Amazon and all the usual places, but – there is a distinct warning that comes with this book.

It is not for the faint of heart who are very religious and can’t take jokes, puns and other stabs to religions, gods and other creatures belonging to that.

The story is not limited to taking on any specific religious group, every one of them gets its share, but please heed this warning. I am not accepting any liability for people who feel offended after reading it, that is why I am mentioning this. I don’t mean to offend or hurt, I mean to make people laugh.

By the time the book approaches publication, I’ll post one or two chapters of it, so you can sample it and make an educated decision whether or not you would like it. For now, cover-making is the next thing on the agenda.

How to spot a reader…

1) They know more than you do… about everything.

2) They often use words that you secretly have to look up later.

3) They have magical cards that get them books for free.

4) They speak the names of people whom you’ve never met; who live in different countries, who lived in other centuries.

5) Their purse/bag/briefcase is always a bit heavier than yours (which you later find out is equivalent to the weight of a book).

6) They know the endings to many of the newest movies before they’ve even seen them.

7) They give you a sympathetic smile when you mention that the last book you read was two summers ago… and it had a half naked man (or woman) on the front.

8) Their bookshelves are covered in books instead of pictures of them.

9) They have bookshelves.

10) They do things that you wouldn’t do, such as reading lists about how to spot a reader.

(With thanks to BookRiot. And I know, some are not entirely correct anymore, because of e-readers. But it’s a fun list anyway.)