Writer’s Desk: Drinking vs. Yoga

Dorothy Parker didn’t do yoga.

As a general rule, writers enjoy drinking. According to Katie Herzog in The Stranger, besides the role models of Dorothy Parker, et al, there’s one very good reason for this:

…writing is easy. Have you ever tried mining coal with a hangover? Or changing a bedpan? How about convincing 30 kindergarteners that it’s time to take a nap? Writing is one of the only professions in which it’s possible to do work when your stomach is a mess and your head is an anvil. It might not feel good, but with enough Advil, you can probably type through it.

Something to consider? Maybe yoga:

Sure, it might be hard to imagine F. Scott Fitzgerald in child’s pose, but he also died before he was 50.

 

Writer’s Desk: Money Helps

JP Donleavy died earlier this month at the age of 91. About a half-century ago he wrote The Ginger Man, another of those great racketing novels from the British Isles about charismatic and sodden rakes. It had the unusual distinction of being highly praised in print by both Dorothy Parker and Hunter S. Thompson, who knew a few things about booze and wit.

In any case, Donleavy proffered some sound advice about those pursing his craft to a magazine in the late 1970s:

Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.

Better definitions have yet to be located.

Writer’s Desk: Style and Forbearance, Young Scribe

The great dispenser of acid-laced bon mots Dorothy Parker, born on August 22 in 1893, had the occasional bit of advice for writers. To wit:

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style.

Hard to argue with, yes? Strunk and White’s paen to simplicity is a must-have tool for any writer of any age.

But Parker went on:

The first-greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.

While people have a low tolerance for writers whingeing about the frustrations baked in to the writing life—nobody forced us to do it, after all—it’s worth pointing out to those just embarking on that path that happiness and fulfillment don’t necessarily follow.

Just writing, and writing well (preferably with a copy of Strunk and White at your side), must often be its own reward.