Tag Archives: Victor Hugo

Quirky writing habits of famous authors

 

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Have you ever wondered how great authors write? You’d think they would have a routine of some kind, a favourite corner or desk, an old comfy sofa or maybe a particular dress they’d like to wear. What you don’t know probably, is how quirky they can get.

All upside down

Did you know, for instance, that Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code thought the best cure for his writer’s block was hanging upside down? He said it helped him relax. So that’s probably how he found out the Holy Grail wasn’t a chalice at all but a woman. Quite brilliant, actually. But no thank you I’m not trying this one.

Writing au naturel

Then there was Victor Hugo who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. When he had a deadline to meet he’d ask his valet to confiscate his clothes so he couldn’t go out anywhere. When it got too cold he simply wrapped himself in a blanket. Going by the length of The Hunchback he would have remained in the buff for a long long time. Definitely not trying this one either.

Sleeping/standing authors

Mark Twain, George Orwell and Woody Allen wrote while lounging on beds and sofas. You would accuse them of being lazy had they not given us such masterpieces. On the other hand there were writers like Hemingway, Dickens and Lewis Carroll who wrote standing at their desks. Hemingway’s work desk was the top of chest-high book shelf. If you’re a Hemingway fan you must read this interview.

(On a completely different note and I know I’m digressing but I must give you this Hemingway tip: Each day he would stop writing at a point in his narrative when he knew what happened next. That way when he took up writing the next day he knew exactly how he had to begin and wouldn’t have to wait to get into the groove, so to say).

And some others..

Among the more recent Indian authors RK Narayan and Vikram Seth offer the greatest contrast:

RK Narayan says, “..between breakfast and lunch I manage five hundred words and while the rice on the stove is cooking, a couple of hundred, and after lunch once again till six.” He makes it sound like such a mundane task.

And there’s Vikram Seth who says writing should flow on its own and cannot/should not be forced. Perhaps that’s why he has such few works, but each of them outstanding.

Among the newer lot  Amish Tripathi likes to listen to music, which is not so strange but he also likes to eat a lot of cream biscuits while writing. I’d only think of the calories I was piling up, leave Ram and Sita to their own devices, and head to the gym.

And lastly I stumbled upon this Durjoy Datta tweet:
My writing process is one part writing, 10 parts YouTube, 10 parts cute dog pictures.

Make what you will of it.

So do you have a writing preference? Or can you write anytime, anywhere?

Day 2 of the #BarAThon Challenge from 1st to 7th August 2016.
The prompt for today is ‘What you didn’t know’.

I am with Team #CrimsonRush

BAR-A-THON

 

The two Quasimodos

Two stories, two characters, two time periods – over a hundred years apart – a shared name – Quasimodo. Since they’re both quirky as can be here goes a two-in-one post for both these uglier than ugly creatures.

If you’re a lover of classics you’ll know the first one – Hugo’s Hunchback from his sad sad book Hunchback of Notre Dame. He’s the hunchbacked, deaf bell-ringer, half blinded by an ugly wart. So hideous is he, even as a newborn, that he is switched at birth with a little girl and abandoned by his parents. So starved is he for love that a single act of kindness by that same girl makes him fall in love with her. Thus starts a love story – one-sided, ill-fated and doomed. The lovely kind-hearted Esmerelda continues to be repulsed by Quasimodo’s ugliness even after he saves her life. He however never stops loving her. When she is executed he lies down beside her and starves to death holding onto her body.

One of my favourite quotes from the book

One of my favourite quotes from the book

Quasimodo’s story is heart wrenching.

On a related note there’s this dialogue from the film ‘The truth about cats and dogs’ (Which, by the way is a wonderful film) that says: You know how someone’s appearance can change the longer you know them? How a really attractive person, if you don’t like them, can become more and more ugly; whereas someone you might not have even have noticed… that you wouldn’t look at more than once, if you love them, can become the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. All you want to do is be near them.

I wholeheartedly agree with this idea. Quasimodo’s plight always made me wonder if physical appearances can be so overpoweringly offensive as to hide all other qualities of a person. Is that possible? Try as I might, the romantic in me, cannot think well of Esmerelda. But then maybe that’s  idealistic, maybe physical appearances do stop you from looking deeper. Maybe.

Onto Quasimodo No 2. He (or rather she) is as different from his namesake as possible. He makes an appearance in one of my all-time favourite books Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. Forgive me if I’m partial to this one – but he really is most endearing. He is named after the original Quasimodo for his amazingly ugly looks. He’s a pigeon – an obese pigeon – but he’s convinced he’s a human, if that counts for anything. Since he’s ‘human’, obviously he cannot fly. He walks. So when, Gerry, the ten-year old whose pet he is, goes for a walk, Quasimodo walks along. He can of course be carried on the shoulder (like a baby) but then there’s always the danger of an ‘accident’. Nobody thought of pigeon diapers, obviously.

Of course he would sleep in the house rather than the pigeon loft and listen to music along with the family. He turned out to be quite a music connoisseur. He learnt to recognise the waltz and the military march, which is more than we can say for a lot of men. He even choreographed and executed with much brilliance, different dance routines for the two.

Then one day to Gerry’s utter shock Quasimodo laid an egg! An egg for goodness sake. ‘He’ was a ‘she’ … a girl.. a woman.. a mum … whatever!! And he/she was spotted sitting on a tree making eyes at a very very macho pigeon.

At least this Quasimodo had a happy ending to her love story.

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Linking up to ABC Wednesday the weekly alphabetical challenge where I get to reminisce about my favourite characters from books. Do drop by and take a look at what others have come up with for the letter Q.

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