I was just asked recently by J. G. Ballard, after a bout of dystopian modernity, “Can you write anywhere, anytime, with household action going on around you?”
To which I replied under a constant threat of instinctive liberalism and rationality, “Let’s see. It all depends on what I’m working on. I’ve written on trains, busy intersections, construction sites, on my lunch break, at work, and at my writing desk, which is in the living room. But it’s normally just first draughts, the initial surge of creative energy that needs out. At some point, though, mostly the editing bit, I need a hermetically sealed space, which is difficult because there’s no such space in my place, so I have to make it by writing at night when everyone else is asleep — although these days, I find myself getting sleepy, too.
“And I can also write to music and like to — especially electronic music, ambient stuff, and the less lyrics the better, although sometimes a Morrissey tune or Elbow or more lyrics gets me going. It helps me type, oddly, a bit like a metronome helps a musician keep a beat, kind of thing. Odd, I’m sure. But again it’s at the early stages, the literal typing as if I’m taking notes from some otherworldly voice. At some point, though, I need to turn everything off and get in contact with that other creative side, the reasoning one that needs to be fully awake to what’s going on narratively so that I can pull something together.
“I rambled there. Sorry. But it’s not such an easy process to describe with a simple yes or no. You know, there’s a lot of odd rituals that have to go into the making of narratives. It’s not as easy as just sitting down and typing as, I think, most people who want to be writers assume it is. Like the story just gets written. In fact, that is the easy part. But what’s difficult is the way you do it, how you do it, when you do it, and the psychological space that needs to be created as well as the faith to keep doing it that is the real struggle, at least for me.”
And then Ballard died. Leaving the literary mouth sorely missing its best incisor.
May he RIP in a eternal groundswell of creative ideas.
“Work while it is called Today; for the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.” Thomas Carlyle