Posted tagged ‘Queequeg’

A puppy and a process

February 3, 2009

We have a new puppy in the house. He’s a little Pomeranian with the fearsome name of Queequeg. Right now he spends his nights sequestered in the kitchen, and when I make my early risings to write in the adjoining dining room, the light and noise from my activities inevitably wake him, bringing a playful, furry interruption to my otherwise unbroken solitude. And this brings me to Hemingway.

Hemingway’s sparse style has fallen into disrepute in recent years, and I’m all for that. There are anecdotes of his writing process, though, that are instructive. Supposedly, he wrote while standing, using the top of an old refrigerator as his desk. He was also supposed to have removed all other furniture and ornamentation from his writing room (just as he had from his writing). He did not want to be bothered by any distraction.

I don’t know if any of this is true (or more likely, if it was consistently true), but with the new puppy in the house, I’ve begun a little writing space experiment.

Normally when I write in the early morning, I have the lights on in the room. Often I am transcribing notes from paper to computer, so I need the light to read. With Queequeg just down the hall, though, I’ve dimmed the room lights to just bright enough to read by, which it seems is not bright enough to wake a pup. So far, so good.

What I’ve found in addition, though, is that I have been able to concentrate much better without all of the ambient light. My eye is not drawn to the potted plant dying in the corner. I don’t see the magazines and other papers scattered on the other end of the table. My thoughts don’t drift to other parts of the house because I am less conscious of them when they are dark. And so on.

I don’t know how well this will work or if I’ll keep it up, but I suppose as long as Queequeg is sleeping just down the hall, I can give it a try.