Hazel McHaffie

Wanted: one idiosyncrasy, previously unused

I’m a writer in search of an idiosyncrasy. The range of mannerisms and quirks people adopt is truly amazing – see I Thought I Was Crazy! Quirks, Idiosyncrasies and Meshugaas. And yes, somebody really did do a research project on the subject. Imagine getting paid to ask people about their bizarre habits and behaviours. Brilliant!

But I’m hankering after a more literary idiosyncrasy myself.

Philip Henscher – he of The Northern Clemency fame (a door-stopping 700+ pages long) – reckons he’s written all his books in longhand using a green Pentel pen and A4 Black’n’Red notebooks. I cannot begin to imagine the sheer hand-strain and number of trees involved there. Or the consequences of innumerable changes required by fastidious editors.

Will Self says he’s returned to a manual typewriter on the grounds that ‘the computer user does their thinking on the screen, and the non-computer user is compelled to do a lot of thinking in the head.’ Hmm. But what about corrections, and cutting and pasting, and sending copies to editors?

Jane Austen kept a creaking door un-oiled so that she had warning of any impending interruption. Now I like the sound of that …

But I’m looking for something unique. Of course, I could just resort to totally unimpressive and un-noteworthy truths like being compelled to finish any book I start reading. Or having to tidy my environment before I can function creatively. Or needing silence to write … Hmmmm. How sad is that? And if there are any psychologists out there reading this, don’t bother; I already know I’m a crazy mixed-up loon. I didn’t dare study psychiatry during my training because I’m too close to the limit myself.

No, all I’m trying to do is find something stylish for my epitaph. Perched precariously on a couple of planks miles above a stairwell hanging wallpaper tends to foster thoughts of imminent demise.

Maybe something like: She routinely ate pickled onions before meeting her publisher; or She stored her own books spine to the wall lest she be tempted to read them; or …

I’ll need to think. On the other hand, perhaps I do actually do something off the wall, but it’s so normal for me I can’t identify it as a peccadillo. Now there’s a thought to conjure with! So those of you who know me personally, all insights gratefully received.

Apropos of nothing really, I came across a quote recently that I jotted down because it reflects something of my own raison d’être as a novelist:
‘I see myself as someone who drops tiny crumbs of nourishment, in the form of comment and conversation, into the black enormous maw of the world’s discontent.’ (Fay Weldon)
Cool, huh?

Hope you’re all weathering this severe winter intact.

, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.