I Will Not Write Unless I Am Swaddled In Furs.
BY JOHN BABBOTT
[Originally published February 25, 2014.]
I will not write unless I’m swaddled in furs and am roosted to perfection upon the couch. Perhaps I could write upon the divan, but never a table. And there must be furs.
I will not write unless I am oriented perpendicularly to a large window. I’m not picky, but it must be quite large, and there must be sheets of cold rain pouring down outside. If the rain stops, so do I. I will not write without a bracing rain.
I must have fuzzy slippers. They must be slightly worn on the inside, because if the fuzz is too fluffy, my feet become claustrophobic, and my writing naturally follows suit. They must not be too worn, though, or else it feels as if I’m merely wearing warm shoes with no socks, which makes me feel ill-prepared. They must be just fuzzy enough.
The beverage is of utmost importance. It must be hot, to contrast the rain, and must be either a coffee of reputable origin or a tea that no one has ever heard of, as the writing that follows (if the conditions are correct) will likewise be uniquely energizing and unexpected.
I should mention that while I require cold, pouring rain, I also require, at some point, the sun to emerge unexpectedly. The sunbeams will illuminate the rising motes of steam from my beverage. The rising steam will resemble, and thus stoke, my Original Creative Fire, and this shall signal the crystallizing moment of artistic creation that sets my writing apart from the work of others. Then, it should begin pouring rain again.
My implements, whichever I choose for the occasion, must be of appropriate heft. I am sorry, I cannot reveal their specifics, as their characteristics are clues that indicate my identity as an artist, which is a secret I must guard at all costs. They are all slightly different, and even I don’t fully understand my criteria for choosing one over the other on any particular late morning. Nonetheless, each and every implement must catch the page deliciously and leave elegant trails of ink, their subtle praxes reminding me with each flourish that something mysterious is happening.
There must be a cat. It must purr constantly. The cat may knead and stretch, but it must not move from its parenthetical orientation next to my left thigh unless absolutely necessary.
The window must be on my left.
It must be early morning, but not dark. I must be well-rested, clean, warm, shaved, manicured, and pleasantly hungry. I must be well-hydrated but not so much so that I have to use the bathroom, as it takes some time to extricate myself from the furs without disturbing the cat. Just before the kettle heralds my writing’s approach, I should be finishing a satisfying, soothing bowel movement. I’m not picky, but it should be well-integrated, smoothly long and tapered at one end. Any other kind would ruin the metaphor.
There should be a moon, and it should be waxing full. I do not need to see the moon—it will be raining, I realize. It’s enough just to know that it’s there.
A friend once told me that Ansel Adams would trek for days and then wait days longer in a location before he took one single, iconic photograph. I don’t know if that’s true about Ansel Adams, but if I were a photographer, I’d work in exactly the same way.
As the correct conditions for writing are difficult to cultivate and come by, I’ve only written three times over the course of my career. Colleagues implore me to be more flexible, pointing out that I would write more if I relaxed my requirements. I always listen but then dismiss them with a wave. The three pieces I have produced have changed the landscape of contemporary art. Their sequence was conceived at the correct moment, under the correct conditions. They will be posthumously released.
Anyway, I trust the accommodations here will meet all my needs. I’ve heard splendid things about this Motel 6. I will now retire to my room. Ring me when the fur delivery arrives.
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