We’ve always enjoyed the minutiae of how others work – which is in part, how we’ve come to make so many documentaries about creative people. It’s why we’re enjoying this book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey. It’s also why we used to scour second-hand bookshops to get the early volumes of The Paris Review: Writers At Work series.
Maya Angelou liked to write in a plain space away from her pretty home. Vita Sackville-West’s writing desk at Sissinghurst faces the wall, which put her back to her beloved garden. Patricia Highsmith wrote hunched over an Olympus portable typewriter, a glass of booze within arm’s reach. Dorothy Parker claimed she used to keep a notebook but could never remember where she’d put it. Our friend Joseph Mitchell, the great New Yorker writer, used to cut his typed drafts to pieces and reorder them, holding the new version together with paper clips.
We like to work, one of us typing at the keyboard, the other sprawled on the floor or loitering about the room. Other times we write and draw feverishly in notebooks, ideally made by Meade in the USA or a French-style ring-bound one with squared paper. We also like to be barefooted as we work.