Monday, January 09, 2006

The Henry Miller Writing Commandments

"After all, most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I'd say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments, while you're walking or shaving or playing a game, or whatever, or even talking to someone you're not vitally interested in."
---- Henry Miller

In Henry Miller Miscellanea (and re-printed in Henry Miller On Writing), there exists a Top 11 list of "commandments" which Henry jotted down for himself, as inspiration for his writing work schedule in 1932/33. Not only do the listed items present a fantastic insight into Miller's self-reflective thoughts, but they reveal a man countering his own anxious writer demons. Every confident exclamated proclamation counters a weakness that nearly every single writer can identify with.

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring.
3. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can't create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don't be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it--but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.


MORNINGS: If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus. If in fine fettle, write.

AFTERNOONS: Work on section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.

EVENINGS: See friends. Read in cafes. Explore unfamiliar sections--on foot if wet, on bicycle, if dry. Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program. Paint if empty or tired. Make notes. Make charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occassional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafes and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for reference once a week."

A couple of years later, Miller was installed at 18 Villa Seurat. His studio work space was photographed by his neighbour, Arnaud de Maigret, seen below:

From this picture, we can see a few things that made writing a bit easier for Henry Miller. Desk facing a window. Radio. Telephone within easy reach. Quotes on the wall (it's hard to make out, but there are words high on the wall). A mirror sits right next to him, for literal self-reflection.

"I have moved the typewriter into the next room where I can see myself in the mirror as I write." [Henry Miller from Tropic Of Cancer, p. 5]

Banner art: Miller writing - an image capture from The Henry Miller Odyssey; notes - Miller's own notes, from the same source. Miller at right - from the cover of Nexus II.

De Maigret photo of Miller's studio - from an article on de Maigret's impressions of Miller and Villa Seurat in Magazine Litteraire (Paris) November 1972 [thanks to Pierre]. This article will be presented as feature post very soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fascinating to see that interior photo of Miller's studio. I'll be looking forward to your post about the article.

Regarding the mirror next to Miller's desk: in Tropic of Cancer, he mentions, "I have moved the typewriter into the next room where I can see myself in the mirror as I write." This appears on page 5 of my copy. I've always found that line appealing. Perhaps the mirror explains why Miller always wrote self-portraits.

9:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, regarding the writing on the wall:

In Always Merry and Bright (page 305), Jay Martin says, "Up near the ceiling Henry wrote on the Villa Seurat wall: 'Jetzt musste ein Wunder gescheh’n'". The phrase is German and translates roughly as "now a miracle has happened". From the photo, it looks like there are a few more words there than Martin reports.

9:39 pm  
Blogger RC said...

Hey Kreg, thanks for the info about the mirror reference in Cancer. I didn't realize that. As for the words on the wall: I have a slightly larger copy of the picture I've posted here. In it, I can make out the words "moi" and "Ma" so I assume this is in French.

10:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it is obviously not a photo of Miller's flat, but rather that of the photographers. Miller used a tall stool to write on (see photo by Maigret in "My Life and Times" where Miller is actually on the stool) and that room is way too neat and tidy for somebody who was a writer. No typewriter either. And a phone! And French writing on the wall with photographs (Maigret's own work probably). Miller hated the radio too. And look at the phone. Wow. Forget it.

1:46 pm  
Blogger chenlina said...

ed hardy clothing
gucci shoes
cheap jordans
coach outlet
true religion outlet
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin outlet
cheap air jordans
air force 1
supra shoes
coach outlet store online
canada goose jackets
ray ban outlet
michael kors bag
ray ban sunglasses outlet
michael kors outlet
michael kors handbags
gucci handbags
running shoes
uggs outlet
louis vuitton
oakley sunglasses cheap
uggs outlet
coach factory outlet online
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
north face outlet
louis vuitton outlet
nike huarache shoes
lebron 11
instyler max
air max uk
uggs for men
cheap nfl jerseys
canada goose coats
hermes birkin
coach factory outlet
oakley sunglasses
toms wedges
michael kors uk

2:55 am  
Blogger mmjiaxin said...

fitflops clearance
phone cases
moncler outlet store
rolex watches outlet
fitflops uk
ugg outlet uk
cheap ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
coach handbags outlet
rolex watches
coach outlet store
adidas wings shoes
winter coats
louis vuitton handbags outlet
michael kors handbags sale
christian louboutin,louboutin,louboutin outlet,louboutin outlet italia,scarpe louboutin
moncler outlet
michael kors uk outlet
soccer jerseys wholesale
canada goose jackets

8:53 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

vikings jerseys
nike outlet store online
golden state warriors jerseys
oklahoma city thunder
mizuno shoes
nike outlet store
houston texans jersey
minnesota vikings jersey
new york giants jersey
nike outlet online
tennessee titans jerseys
tods shoes
detroit lions jersey
cowboys jerseys
marc jacobs
boston celtics
miami heat jerseys
san diego chargers jersey
new orleans saints jerseys
vans shoes
tennessee titans jersey
salomon shoes sale
oakland raiders jerseys
abercrombie and fitch
kobe 9 elite
celine outlet online
dolphins jerseys
cheap nike shoes
houston texans jerseys
mac cosmetics sale
supra shoes sale
steelers jerseys
fred perry polo
converse shoes
tods outlet

6:02 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

michael kors outlet
canada goose jackets
vans shoes
ugg outlet
air max 90
louis vuitton
coach outlet clearance
michael kors outlet clearance
nike store uk
hermes belt

1:57 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

coach factory outlet
air jordan shoes
louis vuitton pas cher
fitflop shoes
chicago bulls jerseys
tory burch
coach outlet online
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton

12:18 am  
Blogger منصتك الاخبارية said...

10:53 pm  
Blogger expertshelp said...

I never knew that this kind of posts do exist, until i came across this one. Its a very unique one, portraying the art of writing. I do love the topic "The Henry Miller Writing Commandments", its kind of fascinating. Thank you very much for taking time to share such nice and interesting information.
Improving the Quality of a Novel

2:32 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

led shoes
tory burch shoes
fitflops clearance
lacoste online shop
led shoes for kids
hogan outlet
yeezy boost 350
harden shoes
adidas online shop
pandora charms

1:01 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

nike dunks shoes
ferragamo belt
nike air force
michael kors factory outlet
new england patriots jersey
michael kors handbags
lebron james shoes
curry 3 shoes
kobe 11
nike polo shirts

9:37 pm  
Blogger بازار الكويت said...

سباك بالكويت
فني صحي
تسليك مجاري
شركة تنظيف

3:31 pm  
Blogger jeje said...

nike trainers sale
ed hardy
cheap ray ban sunglasses
nike air huarache
true religion jeans
cheap snapbacks
coach factory outlet
buffalo bills jerseys

9:34 pm  
Blogger jeje said...

ugg boots uk
jordan shoes
off white clothing
snapbacks wholesale
nike presto femme
chrome hearts
ray ban sunglasses
oakley sunglasses wholesale
ugg boots clearance
maillot football pas cher

9:16 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

www0801christian louboutin shoes
louboutin shoes
fitflops shoes
moncler jackets
coach factory outlet
adidas ultra boost
pandora charms
basket nike
ralph lauren outlet

10:28 pm  
Blogger Perjalanan Menuju Hijrah said...

It’s really a cool and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful
info with us. Please stay us up to date like this.
Thanks for sharing. | |

12:43 am  
Blogger 5689 said...

golden goose
jordan shoes
coach factory outlet
golden goose
christian louboutin outlet
asics shoes
manolo blahnik
michael kors outlet
ugg outlet boots
true religion jeans outlet

10:02 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

curry 4 shoes
kobe 9
adidas shoes outlet
kobe shoes
off white clothing
goyard bag
caterpillar boots
supreme clothing
adidas eqt support

3:14 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

It’s really a cool and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful
info with us. Please stay us up to date like this.
Thanks for sharing.

9:56 pm  
Blogger yanmaneee said...

supreme hoodie
ferragamo belts
golden goose sneakers
nike air vapormax
converse outlet store
yeezy boost
kd 11 shoes
birkin bag
vans outlet

10:55 pm  
Blogger yanmaneee said...

golden goose
pandora jewelry
kyrie 6 shoes
lebron 17
nike off white
golden goose sneakers
curry 6 shoes
moncler jackets
kobe 11
paul george shoes

9:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off white clothing
kyrie 6 shoes
kyrie 5 spongebob

6:14 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home