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Mindful : June 2017
Maya Angelou Author Maya Angelou’s solu- tion was to go into isolation. She had trouble writing in her beautifully appointed home because, as she said, “I can’t work in a pretty surrounding. It throws me.” So she rented a small hotel room with a bed, a wash basin, and little else. “I try to get there around seven, and I work until two in the afternoon,” she told interviewer Claudia Tate. “If the work is going badly, I stay until 12:30. If it’s going well, I’ll stay as long as it’s going well. It’s lonely, and it’s mar- velous.” On returning home, Angelou showered and pre- pared dinner, so that when her husband arrived, she wouldn’t be totally absorbed in her work. But sometimes after dinner she would read to him what she’d written that day. “He doesn’t comment,” she added. “I don’t invite comments from anyone but my editor, but hearing it aloud is good. Sometimes I hear the dissonance; then I try to straighten it out in the morning.” Bernard Malamud Like many novelists, Bernard Malamud stuck to a disci- plined routine—from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day—which usually resulted in a page or two of finished copy. But he scoffed at the idea of mimick- ing the work rituals of great writers. “You write by sitting down and writing,” he once said. “There’s no particular time or place—you suit your- self, your nature.... The real mystery to crack is you.” June 2017 mindful 67