Tag Archive | HP Lovecraft

An Open Letter to H.P. Lovecraft

And Anyone Else Who Thinks They Know the Rules of Writing

Dear Mr. Lovecraft,

“At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”

Do you mind if I call you Herb? That is, after all, your name: Herbert Phillips Lovecraft.

Anyway, Herb, I tried your advice about writing at night, and it sucked. See, I’m a morning person. Always have been, always will be. I guess it’s just encoded in my genes that I’m at my most productive around 8 in the morning.

But just for shits & giggles, I tried your way — and gave up after 3 days. First, I could barely stay awake past 10 pm. Second, I still woke up at 8 the next morning, even after forcing myself to stay up until midnight — when I was far too tired to even have an idea, much less write it down.

The about writing is this, Herb: nobody can tell anyone else the “right” or “wrong” way to do it. Writing is communication, and the method is unique to all of us. I tried writing at night, and it doesn’t work for me. Does that mean I’m not a writer? Or — and this is, I suspect, more likely the truth — that I’m not a writer by your standards.

Here are some other ways I don’t write:

  1. With a quill pen, which I understand was once quite fashionable
  2. Standing up and leaning on my mantel
  3. With a typewriter
  4. With a pencil or a pen

All of these were once “rules” of writing for certain specific authors, and which have never worked for me. I grew up with typewriters, first manual and later electric. And while I used to love my IBM Selectric typewriter, and later, my IBM Displaywriter, I’m now perfectly content with my laptop, iPad, and iPhone.

The only hard and fast rule I have consistently adhered to for the past 50 years of writing was one taught by Dr. Louis Bittrich in my advance-placement college Freshman Composition class: “You can’t break the rules until you know them and understand why they’re there. Only then can you deliberately violate them, if it helps get your message across.”

So Herb, this is where you and I part company. I really love a lot of your work, but I’m afraid your opinion on writing at night will, for me, remain just that: an opinion. I tried it, it didn’t work, so I’m going back to writing in the morning, over a steaming mug of strong black tea.

Sincerely,

A Fan

I Do My Best Writing in the Morning

Or at least I think I do. After all, that’s when I get most of my ideas.

So I take one of those ideas and run with it. That way I’m sure not to lose the idea, which, as we all know about our own ideas, is earth-shakingly brilliant in every way. That is, after all, why we write, isn’t it?

But I’m not a complete slave to my habit, and so I’ve decided to try something new.

This morning I came across this passage from the master of horror and the bizarre, H. P. Lovecraft:

“At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”

If I have one complaint with Lovecraft it’s this: I was living in Boston when I first read At The Mountains of Madness, and it took me a full week before I was able to venture back into the subway and streetcar tunnels.

But who am I to argue with genius?

So my new plan, which I’m going to try for at least a week (given that it’s going to play merry Hob with my sleep schedule) is this: any ideas I have in the morning I’ll jot down in a notebook and flesh out at night.

Of course, my issues with depression screw up my sleep anyway, so what have I got to lose?