MUD day 12:
On a day when I have little time and less inspiration, I will let the sadly neglected S. J. Perelman ride to my rescue. In a late-1950s Paris Review interview, he was asked what he did to overcome the blank page and start writing an essay. His answer involved yet another approach from Raymond Chandler, previously cited this month as a model by one of my illustrious commenters:
Interviewer: Are there any devices you use to get yourself going on [your essays]?
Perelman: No, I don’t think so. Just anguish. Just sitting and staring at the typewriter and avoiding the issue as long as possible. Raymond Chandler and I discussed this once, and he admitted to the most bitter reluctance to commit anything to paper. He evolved the following scheme: he had a tape recorder into which he spoke the utmost nonsense—a stream of consciousness which was then transcribed by a secretary and which he then used as a basis for his first rough draft. Very laborious. He strongly advised me to do the same . . . in fact became so excited that he kept plying me with information for months about the machine that helped him.
Perelman doesn’t say whether he tried the method. But if you, like Chandler, have a dread of the blank page, it might be worth a try.
Illustrious? Thanks. I don’t believe that modifier has ever been applied to me before.
Then it’s about time!
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