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Friday, October 25, 2013

Writing Barely

It’s a wet heat, this rainy season in Puerto Rico.

Trade winds down.

Mosquito population up.

No air conditioning in my eco-hip house.

The tropical weather stirs up crazy thoughts that seem perfectly rational in this swelter.

Like – “Today I’m going to sit down to write with no clothes on.”

Mark Twain overlooked writers when he famously said: Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

Good writers do indeed influence society. And many do so naked.

During his Cuba period, rugged Ernest Hemingway did much of his writing in the raw, standing, with his typewriter about waist-high.

Ernest Hemingway at his Cuba farmhouse.

Agatha Christie was another who stripped to write. 

She liked to compose while soaking in her large Victorian bathtub -- munching on apples, to boot.

Agatha Christie wrote while taking a tubby.

“Writing barely” has a long tradition.

French novelist Victor Hugo was often unclad when he wrote Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

He had his servant take his clothes away for the day, leaving Hugo with nothing else to do but write. 

Couldn’t leave the house in his birthday suit, could he?

Sans apparel, Victor Hugo’s study was his sanctuary.

Another Frenchman, Edmond Rostand, is best known for his play, Cyrano de Bergerac

He became so impatient with being interrupted by his friends that he took to working naked in his bathtub.

Edmond Rostand was another writer who toiled in the tub.

Now, looking at the photos of all these literary luminaries, the question arises: who would want to see any of these grandees in the altogether?

The obvious answer prompts me -- a man with a shaved head -- to side with Demosthenes.

This greatest of all statesmen of ancient Greece shaved only one side of his head. This ensured that he remain in the house writing and practicing his speaking skills -- instead of going out and looking daffy.

In my next blog, “The Miracle Swim Master of Sarasota, Part 1”


  1. After visiting Hemingway's house in Key West and having experienced the temperatures inside, I can imagine very well why he preferred to write naked ;)

  2. Worse, he liked to sleep with those polydactyl pussies cuddling against him. Eww!

  3. Thank you. Information I definitely need. I am from Mark Twain's area now living in Vieques. I need to adjust to be more creative.

    1. Twain was such an iconoclast. I'm surprised he, too, didn't do his "writing barely."