Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Secrets of True Genius

This morning I read an article written by Oliver Burkeman for, The Guardian. It is an overview of daily routines of history’s most creative minds. I was fascinated by some of the examples he gave, such as Benjamin Franklin spending his mornings naked (an air bath) and that  Agatha Christie didn’t own a desk. Every morning, before getting to work, Søren Kierkegaard poured black coffee over a full cup of sugar and pounded down the sludge that was the consistency of mud.

My love for research and interesting facts led me to buy the book, Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey, the book that Burkeman’s article referred to. I bought it for purely selfish reasons though because I long to know what it is that I need to change, buy, grow, rent, beg for or steal to obtain even the most infinitesimal piece of creativity that was ever so abundant in the history of certain great minds.

I found a few routines that immediately must be ruled out. I have to decline the practice of strategic alcohol abuse that seems to be such a common theme among great writers. I’ve tried but can’t be organized and often refer to my disorganization as ‘comfort clutter’. I’ll never be a morning person and would kill anyone who tried to reform me.

I sort of got hung up on the piece about Patricia Highsmith, the author of, Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She was never short of illumination and often boasted that she had ideas like rats had orgasms although I’m not sure she was speaking from knowledge or presumption. She needed a ‘womb of her own’, to be surrounded by cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, coffee, doughnuts and a saucer of sugar to work. Wow, what is it with the sugar? She didn’t seem to be overweight in her photos but I’m seeing some relationship between sugar and inspiration. She only ever ate bacon, eggs and cereal at odd times of the day. She was ill at ease around people. I can relate to that being the introvert that I am. What I couldn’t relate to…at all…was her intense connection with snails. She raised hundreds of snails in her Suffolk garden and once went to a cocktail party with a huge handbag that carried a head of lettuce and a hundred snails. She said they were her companions for the evening. When she moved to France, she had to smuggle her companions over the border by making several trips and hiding six to ten of them under each breast. Heh.

Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t want to have some of the routines I have read about so far but if overindulgence in something is one of the prerequisites, then I do qualify.

I drink gallons of diet Pepsi! It’s embarrassing to admit but it has been going on for quite some time now and if the chemicals they use to produce it are scientifically proven to be unhealthy then at least I’ll know what’s gonna’ take me out. Cans are lined up in the refrigerator right now like little tin soldiers ready for duty. The recycle bin is overflowing and the utility porch is well stocked. If diet Pepsi were ever to become illegal, I could see myself smuggling a can under each breast.

Know what  really scares me? Pepsi announced that they have changed the formula to remove the risk factors. Adding a warning label that the product ‘may cause cancer’, was unthinkable. They won’t be using Asparteme anymore but have assured customers that the taste will remain the same. Poppycock! I just hope this doesn’t affect my writing.


  1. My husband thinks he can convert me to a morning person. I have to wake up at 5am, because that's when the baby gets up... but it makes the morning passable, when I see my baby smile :)

    Hey, if sugar is a requirement, I'm all in!

    I've heard about the alcohol issue with writers. My uncle was a children's author and he was an alcoholic. His daughter wants to be a writer and finds that it soothes her mind to drink what her father used to drink... which was warm sugar milk with rum. Sugar AND Rum....

    I'll never be a writer if THAT is the requirement, because I don't drink. And snails... ok, ewwwww... But really neat to read the weird stuff of genius!

  2. Really appreciate your comments, Aleta. Enjoy your baby, it all goes by so fast. :)