Still my favorite blog because of the sheer variety of topics and the excellent writing, Andrew Sullivan’s blog is a go to for me every single day, multiple times during the day. It’s amazing what comes out of his blog every day. Here are two examples from today, and they just scratch the surface:
Jack London. Andrew posted an excerpt from a review of a new biography of Jack London. Here’s the interesting writerly thing that Andrew also highlighted:
Jack London’s writing routine was the single unchanging element of his relatively brief adult life. From the age of 22 until his death at 40, he wrote a thousand words every day, a quota he filled as a rule between 9 and 11 a.m. He slept for five hours a night, which left him with 17 hours of free time. But in his writing hours he was prolific: he produced short stories, poetry, plays, reportage, ‘hackwork’ and novels, many of them bestsellers. In 18 years, he published more than fifty books. ‘I’d rather win a water fight in the swimming pool,’ he said, ‘than write the great American novel.’
It’s a huge encouragement for the idea of a writing life. Write for two hours a day, producing 1,000 words each day and, you too, can end up producing 50 books over the course of 18 years. Only problem is this … the math doesn’t add up. Go back and think about it. Unless books back then were a whole lot shorter than they are now, which I don’t think is the case.
There are a couple of interesting quotes from the book referenced in the review:
After The Call of the Wild was received as an allegory, London said, “I plead guilty, but I was unconscious of it at the time. I did not mean to do it.” According to the review, he’d meant to write a story about a good dog. This confirms my own feeling that many stories that are interpreted as having particular “meanings” or “points” were frequently intended by the authors to just be a story about nothing other than … a good dog.
I also get this: “Every time I sit down to write,” London wrote, “it is with great disgust. I’d sooner be out in the open, wandering around most any old place.”
And then there was this. According to the chart and the research, the top 10% of Americans average how many alcoholic drinks per week? 73.85. That’s 10 a day. Every day. Week after week. Wow. I get that there are alcoholics and they drink a lot, but imagine this. If these numbers are correct, one out of ten people you know drink that much. It’s stunning. I have a problem, but it never, ever got close to that. I don’t even want to think what my life might be like if I drank that much.
Interesting thing … wasn’t Jack London known for his vast consumption of alcohol?