Why do we write? Tweet? Blog?

Posted on October 29th, 2013

Anyone who blogs, or finds themselves really quite glued to their social media feed, asks this of themselves intermittently. I do. I have my answer now. I blog because I need to. It’s my dharma.

Image by Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Image by Arno Rafael Minkkinen

The way I experience things is to pull apart the elements, to break them down, to cluster and to organise and to entertain meta theories and note interesting patterns of behaviour or phenomena. It’s a sport for me. Some people do cryptic crosswords. I spot patterns in life.

I spot that middle-aged Jewish men like to power walk in pairs.

That people born and raised in Sydney often have raspy voices.

That our idiosyncrasies spawn from a need to escape loneliness.

That Liberal MPs are all starting to speak in the same stilted, hesitating, lip-licking way as Tony Abbott.

Then I have to record them. I’m reminded of something Arthur Miller wrote. Scrap that. Sarah, get real!? I never remember quotes. Rather, this quote popped up somewhere, I saved it, and I found it again just now:

“The very impulse to write springs from an inner chaos crying for order – for meaning.”

Writers, bloggers, we all have the need to spot patterns. I think we tend towards the obsessive end of the behavioural spectrum, with an impulse to create patterns and order. Read more

Writing places in New York

Posted on August 15th, 2013

I do my best work on planes in economy seats. I do my best thinking waiting in the line at the post office. We all Get More Done in unexpected places, where the contrast flicks us into inspired action.

My writing room at The Library hotel.

My writing room at The Library hotel.

Which is why it was pretty cool to be in New York for two weeks finishing my next book. Which, by the way, is a follow-up to I Quit Sugarlet’s call it IQS#2 for now.  I was in New York, by the way, to sign a book deal with an American publisher – let’s say it will be coming out in May 2014 for now.

I didn’t shop, I didn’t sight-see. Most days – when I wasn’t shlepping between publishing houses with my agent Laurie – I was in my hotel writing. I kind of loved that right outside there was so much going on that I was missing out on. The contrast spurred me on. It’s like being in Paris when all your belongings have been stolen. Or in the best croissant bakery in the world with a gluten intolerance. (I’ve done both.)

I found the rhythms of the hotel comforting. I felt like The Major in Faulty Towers. And I got work done, happily and calmly.

New York – in fact, most big cities – are places where working solo in public places is a really comforting and comfortable thing to do. Paris has a legacy of it with the existentialist philosophers doing all their best work in cafes. Have you read JPS’s The Waiter? British writers went to Milan at various points in history and sat in the aperitivo bars to work. The focus can quieten the freneticness. The absorption can bring you in closer to yourself. For in big cities it’s very easy to lose yourself. Again, contrasts.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the places where I wrote and got close.

A Writer’s Guide to NYC

* The HighlineThis is a great writing hotel. But also a great eco hotel. And a quiet hotel. Oh, and a great slow foodie hotel. Thus ticking off the four points I look for in a joint.

On my recent New York trip to do pre-publicity for the US edition of I Quit Sugar I stayed here for almost a week. The building is epic – taking up an entire block in a quiet pocket in the meat packing district…just under the High Line, which in Summer is one of the best places Read more

It’s better to feel normal about being abnormal

Posted on January 23rd, 2013

I like Henry Miller’s mind. I’ve written about it before. He expresses without apology. His writing just…goes there; it cuts through and doesn’t pause to deliberate fruitlessly. It feels like freedom to just read his work.

Image by Jody Rogac

Image by Jody Rogac

I came across these Henry Miller quotes just now. It’s from an essay he wrote on the musings of psychoanalyst E. Graham Howe. Miller dissects some of Rowe’s thoughts on normality, and surrender, that I rather like:

“‘Normality,’ says Howe, ‘is the paradise of escapologists, for it is a fixation concept, pure and simple.’ ‘It is better, if we can,’ he asserts, ‘to stand alone and to feel quite normal about our abnormality, doing nothing whatever about it, except what needs to be done in order to be oneself.’

Yes, we must stand alone in order to be ourselves. And, yes, it’s the most challenging thing in the world to do. It’s my greatest ambition… to be truly, bravely myself.

As Miller goes on, a little aloofly:

It is just this ability to stand alone, and not feel guilty or harassed about it, of which the average person is incapable. Read more