After reading a brief review in The New Yorker I ordered Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey from my local library. A title like that always gets my attention. We learn, through this collection of short essays, how famous creative people fought procrastination and got themselves to the desk. And Curry includes “writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptors and scientists on how they create (and avoid creating) their creations.”
Mr. Curry launched a blog called “Daily Routines” on a Sunday afternoon in 2007 after searching the Internet for details on other writers’ working schedules. He found the anecdotes entertaining and decided that someone (he) should share this news with the world. Thus was born “Daily Routines” that same afternoon. A literary agent eventually e-mailed Mr. Curry “out-of-the-blue” and suggested it could be a book. It was sold to Knopf and now it’s out there for the world to enjoy.
The most famous blog-into-book that comes to my mind is the one Julie Powell started in 2002, while working her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In 2005 her blog/now book, Julie & Julia came to be, followed up with a film version, written by Nora Ephron and starring Meryl Streep as Julia and Amy Adams as Julie.
While I have no illusions that my blogging will morph into a book, some of the successful blogs-to-books I’ve read about: Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica; Stuff White People Like: a Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions by Christian Lander; and 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son by Walker Lamond seem very clever and worthy of reading. Maybe some of you know of other blogs/now books out there?
I heartily recommend Daily Rituals to my fellow writers and artists, especially those who suffer from bouts of writers’ block, procrastination and indecision. That means nearly all of us. Author Curry, has collected 161 “inspired — and inspiring — minds” from centuries past (Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin) right up to the present (Oliver Sacks, Jonathan Franzen). After his introduction, Curry starts with W. H. Auden and ends, 233 pages later, with Bernard Malamud. A very detailed, 30-page Notes section on every artist and writer follows.
The book may not cure any of us of our procrastination, our fears and insecurities, but it’s great reading, in small doses, and you never know. After reading how Nabokov and Margaret Mead got down to work, learning how George Sand and Rachmaninoff disciplined themselves, and seeing photos of Flaubert’s studio at Croisset and Charles Darwin’s hideaway at Down House in Kent, we just might propel ourselves to our desks and finish that chapter, complete that poem, begin that essay.
My book recommendation is, of course, Daily Rituals by Mason Curry. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
Two quotes from the book:
“(Stephen) King writes every day of the year, including his birthday and holidays, and he almost never lets himself quit before he reaches his daily quota of two thousand words.” Francine Prose: “When the writing is going well, I can work all day. When it’s not, I spend a lot of time gardening and standing in front of the refrigerator.”