Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for April 24th, 2011

A writer’s routine: Norman Mailer

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Like an old man, I would come up out of a Seconal stupor with four or five times the normal dose in my veins, and drop into a chair to sit for hours…I would sit in a chair and watch a baseball game on television, or get up and go out in the heat to a drugstore for a sandwich and malted—it was my outing for the day: the walk would feel like a patrol in a tropical sun, and it was two blocks, no more. When I came back, I would lie down, my head would lose the outer wrappings of sedation, and with a crumb of Benzedrine, the first snake or two of thought would wind through my brain. I would go for some coffee—it was a trip to the kitchen, but when I came back I would have a scratchboard and pencil in hand. Watching some afternoon horror on television, the boredom of the performers coming through their tense hilarities with a bleakness to match my own, I would pick up the board, wait for the first sentence—like all working addicts I had come to an old man’s fine sense of inner timing—and then slowly, but picking up speed, the actions of the drugs hovering into collaboration like two ships passing in view of one another, I would work for an hour, not well but not badly either…Then my mind would wear out, and new work was done for the day. I would sit around, watch more television and try to rest my dulled mind, but by evening a riot of bad nerves was on me again, and at two in the morning I’d be having the manly debate of whether to try sleep with two double capsules, or settle again for my need of three.

Norman Mailer, “The Last Draft of The Deer Park,” in Advertisements for Myself

Written by nevalalee

April 24, 2011 at 12:43 am

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