Fame is a drag to anybody who wants new work done.
Jack Kerouac on the ideal conditions for writing.
How Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road, part of designer Johnson Banks’ fantastic poster titled The Power of Creativity
Work-destroyers … work-destroyers. Time-killers? I’d say mainly the attentions which are tendered to a writer of “notoriety” (notice I don’t say “fame”) by secretly ambitious would-be writers, who come around, or write, or call, for the sake of the services that are properly the services of a bloody literary agent. When I was an unknown struggling young writer, as the saying goes, I did my own footwork, I hot-footed up and down Madison Avenue for years, publisher to publisher, agent to agent, and never once in my life wrote a letter to a published famous author asking for advice, or help, or, in Heaven above, had the nerve to actually mail my manuscripts to some poor author who then has to hustle to mail it back before he’s accused of stealing my ideas. My advice to young writers is to get themselves an agent on their own, maybe through their college professors (as I got my first publishers through my prof Mark Van Doren), and do their own footwork, or “thing” as the slang goes … So the work-destroyers are nothing but certain people.
The work-preservers are the solitudes of night, “when the whole wide world is fast asleep.”
What do you find the best time and place for writing?
The desk in the room, near the bed, with a good light, midnight till dawn, a drink when you get tired, preferably at home, but if you have no home, make a home out of your hotel room or motel room or pad: peace. [Picks up harmonica and plays.] Boy, can I play!
Also see Kerouac’s 30 beliefs and techniques for modern prose.
Jack Kerouac’s hand-drawn cross-country road trip map from On the Road.
So great – Jack Kerouac’s hand-drawn cover for On the Road.
A 19-year-old Jack Kerouac writing in his diary in 1941, at once a living testament to the richness of life as a college-dropout-turned-lifelong-learner and a poignant meditation on the most fundamental tension of the human condition.
From the superb New York Diaries.