Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

literacy

Two weeks from today the U-T and KPBS, both of whom I’ve worked for and with, will launch their first annual Festival of Books (sdfestivalofbooks.com). The place will be the McMillin Event Center at Liberty Station in Point Loma, where, from 10 am to 6 pm, an assemblage of authors will appear and sign their books in a setting of food, music and activities for children. At 4:40 pm I’ll be moderating a panel of authors who will discuss the writing process, so this is a good time for me to share some thoughts about that topic.

Ernest Hemingway’s first rule for writers was to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. But not all authors are able to survive with such a simple approach.

Francis Bacon knelt each day before creating his greatest works. Martin Luther could not write unless his dog was lying at his feet, while Ben Jonson needed to hear his cat purring. Marcel Proust sealed out the world by lining the walls of his study with cork. Gertrude Stein and Raymond Carver wrote in their cars, while Edmond Rostand preferred to write in his bathtub.

Emily Dickinson hardly ever left her home and garden. Wallace Stevens composed poetry while walking to and from work each day at a Hartford, Ct., insurance company. Alexander Pope and Jean Racine could not write without first declaiming at the top of their voices. Jack Kerouac began each night of writing by kneeling in prayer and composing by candlelight. Friedrich Schiller started each of his writing sessions by opening the drawer of his desk and breathing in the fumes of the rotten apples he had stashed there.

Some writers have donned and doffed gay apparel. Early in his career, John Cheever wore a business suit as he traveled from his apartment to a room in his basement. Then he hung the suit on a hanger and wrote in his underwear. Jessamyn West wrote in bed without getting dressed, as, from time to time, did Eudora Welty, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain and Truman Capote. John McPhee worked in his bathrobe and tied its sash to the arms of his chair to keep from even thinking about deserting his writing room.

For stimulation, Honoré de Balzac wrote in a monk’s costume and drank at least 20 cups of coffee a day, eventually dying of caffeine poisoning. As his vision failed, James Joyce took to wearing a milkman’s uniform when he wrote, believing that its whiteness caught the sunlight and reflected it onto his pages.

Victor Hugo went to the opposite lengths to ensure his daily output of words on paper. He gave all his clothes to his servant with orders that they be returned only after he had finished his day’s quota.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote only in the early morning, Alain-Rene Lesage at midday and Lord Byron at midnight. Dan Brown rises to write at 4 am, seven days a week. As an antidote to the dreaded writer’s block, he hangs upside down like a bat until the creative juices begin coursing.

Early on, I discovered that I am more lark than owl — more a morning person than a night person — and certainly not a bat, one who scribbles through the night. I usually hit the ground punning at around 7:30 am., and I’m banging away at the keyboard within an hour.

To be a writer, one must behave as writers behave. They write. And write. And write. The difference between a writer and a wannabe is that a writer is someone who can’t not write, while a wannabe says, “One of these days when . . ., then I’ll. . . .” Unable not to write, I write almost every day.

A grocer doesn’t wait to be inspired to go to the store and a banker to go to the bank. I can’t afford the luxury of waiting to be inspired before I go to work. Writing is my job, and it happens to be a job that almost nobody gives up on purpose. I love my job as a writer, so I write. Every day that I can. My whole life has been an effort to obliterate the distance between who I am and what I do. When you are heels over head in love with what you do, you never work a day in your life.