Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Stephen Simm

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Rites, rituals and a jersey from the 70s…

I have my fingers in the socket and smoke coming off my head – in the painful way, and the thrilling way. Writing a book. I sometimes… no, often wonder what drives writers to do what they do. Sometimes it seems so bizarre, this drive/desire/compulsion to expend so much time and energy fixating on people and situations that don’t actually exist! I mean I see the appeal from the other side – it’s great fun getting lost in fiction i.e. reading it. But making it? It’s strange. Writers are strange.

That said, I love it. Except when I hate it. Sometimes it’s what I live for. Except when it’s killing me. This all sounds melodramatic, but I hope someone out there relates. If you do, you are strange too. But that’s okay.

Hmm, I suddenly feel this pressure to use a few proper nouns, so that this will be tagged. Well, okey-dokey, I read that, after decades of writing, Henry James decided that fiction was pointless and abandoned it to solely write poetry. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Another proper noun I’ll stick in for today is Patti Smith, for no reason other than the fact that I just spotted her on a CD cover on my desk. Yes, I’m rambling. But after a rigorous writing session, I just need to be mindless for a few minutes, if that’s okay. I’m finding ‘Horses’ to be a wonderful background to writing. I like loud, raucous music while I work – it gets me out of the way. My other writing habit (fast becoming a superstition) is to wear this old 70s jersey that is truly something to behold: it is mostly brown (obviously) and is adorned with some groovy geometric shapes. I can imagine it was quite the visual treat in its hallucinogenic heyday. Oh, and big, flared sleeves.

I’d love some of the other writers to share their bizarre writing rituals…


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 28th, 2007 @22:29 #

    Dear Stephen. As I have no bizarre writing ritual of my own, I decided to try yours. Unfortunately, my wife returned home unexpectedly and found me wearing the pink and blue sweater my ex had crocheted for me back in the late 80s. I had kept it hidden under a loose board in my office, having saved it from the clutches of the Salvation Army following one of my wife’s search-and-discard missions of the early 90s. On seeing the detested garment, my wife erupted in frenzy of rage and disgust – the latter prompted by the fact that I prefer to wear this particular sweater like a pair of pants, as this has rather obvious advantages in terms of access. Sadly, I must now conclude that these advantages are only obvious to me. To make matters worse, my wife is now out in the garden burning my dear sweater, loudly proclaiming that I can gain similar benefit from a bathrobe. What she fails to realise is that a bathrobe cannot match the therapeutic effect of my crotchless knickerbockers when viewed in a mirror, as you will discover if you put it to the test. Looking forward to the pics. Best. R.


Please register or log in to comment

» View comments as a forum thread and add tags in BOOK Chat