Monday, May 16, 2011

The Mechanics of Writing

Well, yer just sit down with a pen and paper, innit??

If only…Does every aspiring wordsmith require the precise and perfect conditions in which to create?  The right pen, the sun at the right angle, the correct silence?
The ideas that ferment underneath what finally appear as posts flow quite freely, in any circumstances and in every possible situation. But writing, shepherding these ideas into the corral of a post is far more fragile and transitory enterprise.

My cell is too small to hold both a table and chair simultaneously. Where, how, to place this sub-Turing machine so that I can type without discomfort? How is this in relation to the light, my jug, my tobacco?

This cell receives too little natural light to read or write without discomfort. The light fitting is sited at the rear of the cell, illuminating the toilet beautifully but leaving the rest of the cell bereft. My little lamp is vital, yet restricted by the position of the power socket and the length of its lead. And curse the 'low energy' bulb and its pathetic efforts.

A11 of these are, perhaps, small things. Prison writing has been created in far harsher, literally lethal, circumstances. But tonight I have finally found a working solution that gives me some ease. Sitting at the head of my bed, cross legged, my lamp shining over my left shoulder, coffee and tobacco on the chair at my right hand. The linchpin to this arrangement is something on which to rest my machine. Earlier, I found a cardboard box, previously the home of photocopier paper which I have managed to cut down to a precise height.

My word-processor sits in front of me, lit just right, and at height that is comfortable. I can now write with something approaching ease. Imperfect, but workable. Alas, it is now nearly midnight - the prison is utterly silent, and it is only in these still moments that I appreciate how loud hunt-and-peck typing can be!  And so, having created the ideal writing circumstances, I must stop.


  1. It's interesting you mention the silence. One of the things that really bothered me on my short stint in prison was the noise. I came up with this, "Nothing in prison ever happens quickly or quietly." The "window warriors" the idiot downstairs on the induction wing that insisted on having his music loud enough to actually melt concrete (hmm, maybe an escape attempt?) The officers and their heavy boots, the mentally ill screaming to go home or be allowed to die, nothing was quiet. Even in the dead of the night I could hear men weeping and this was in an OPEN PRISON!

  2. Can people in prison buy lottery tickets?

  3. But at least you are writing, I am glad you have been able to keep your word processor.

    Good luck and take care Ben.

  4. I tend to find the key to productivity when writing is change, which results me switching repeatadly from sitting on my bed to sitting at my desk, to the living room floor, to the dining table. Atm the desk is preferred, with piles of paper stacked around it like a fortress wall.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.