How Amis Writes--from the Times (London), 10 January 1998.
[FROM *THE TIMES* OF LONDON. JANUARY 10, 1998. THAT DATE'S ISSUE IS MYSTERIOUSLY UNOBTAINABLE FROM *THE TIMES* ONLINE ARCHIVE. SO I COULDN'T GET A LINK. I HAD TO COPY THIS PIECE FROM LEXIS-NEXIS.]
"HOW I WRITE" BY MARTIN AMIS
My study has a balcony, a sofa, armchair, filing cabinet, a long table and a computer. I use the computer mostly as a typewriter, for my second draft only, otherwise I write in longhand---you feel the flow more and it's easily correctable. If it is going well it can feel almost painterly. You're able to see the history of what you're writing and the corrections bear their own archaeology. With computers, it's all too easy to erase. I use lined notebooks and pens which become a total mystery. I buy about 20 a week, but can never find a single one.
I work from 10.30am to mid-afternoon, not stopping for lunch. I drink lots of coffee and smoke cigarettes. Smoking is so tied to writing I could not give it up.
I feel like a bit of a schlep sometimes. I have long periods when I don't write a word and just walk around opening books. But that changes when I'm in the finishing stages of a novel. Then the entire process is far more intense and I get very anxious. My father would be anxious every single day before he started writing but with me it is only towards the end. My mind becomes utterly absorbed: I imitate being a father and a husband.
If I feel stuck I sit it out. My father would go for a walk if he had a problem, but generally I don't leave the house until I have finished my work for the day. I would like to write between 6pm and 7pm but now the evenings are taken up with baby stuff. Sometimes I show my work to my partner Isabel, but I'm not really on for suggestions.
My first two novels were written when I had an office job. I would write under the blotting paper on my desk at work. Now, at home, I've found a good routine. I don't miss being around other people at all. I have a big appetite for solitude.
Keats, apparently, would dress up in robes in order to find his muse. I just sit and write. I'm happy doing it here in England at the moment but it doesn't escape me that other countries have a less suspicious attitude towards me, and writers in general.
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