It’s taken as a given that writers wear all sorts of things to write in, from top hat and tails, threadbare old cardigans to absolutely nothing at all. OK so I lied about the tails. The point I’m making is that it’s broadly acknowledged that what you wear whilst you are writing the great novel, symphony or latest blog post has no effect whatsoever on what you are producing.
Truman Capote famously described himself as an ‘horizonatal author’ saying “I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping.”
John Cheever declared “To publish a definitive collection of short stories in one’s late 60s seems to me, as an American writer, a traditional and a dignified occasion, eclipsed in no way by the fact that a great many of the stories in my current collection were written in my underwear.”
Flannery O Connor, who lived with lupus, noted “I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.”
O’Connor’s quote really resonates with me. My ill health means that my energy, and accompanying symptoms, vary enormously. Good (ish) days mean that I can sit here at my desk at 1030 am and begin to write this blog. On bad days after getting up and making breakfast I am back in bed before lunchtime my head spinning, limbs leaden and heavy, exhausted just by sitting up and not able to read or listen to music as everything sets off intense dizzy spells.
And that’s why on the days I don’t venture out of the house (which are the majority at present) I prefer to stay in my ultra comfortable pj’s with my cosy dressing gown bought for me by a very kind friend. Another friend, not alone in his opinion, was well meaning but ill informed. He said he was worried that my experience of ill health (and my attitude to it) could be exacerbated by my choice not to get dressed. I know he was concerned that I would define myself by my illness and nothing else. For him, putting on sweatpants and an old t-shirt made him feel tired and less inclined to do anything.
In fact he does have a point.