Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Clothes Do Not Make the Writer (Thankfully)

I was planning on writing about something else entirely, but Marilyn’s post yesterday generated so many comments that I took some time to think about what exactly I wear when I write and why.

I fall into both camps that were discussed yesterday—I do get up and get dressed almost immediately upon waking, but there are those days when I loll in my pajamas for a few minutes. These are the days, inevitably, when it is raining cats and dogs and someone needs a ride to school. On those days, yes, I have been known to drive around town in Old Navy pajama pants and a “Life Is Good” tee shirt, hoping against hope that I don’t break a law that would require that I pull over and face a cop, most of whom live right in the town. I’d never live it down. And, for sure, I’d end up in the “Blotter” section of our local paper, the section most often cited as the first one everyone goes to on Thursday when the Gazette arrives. Trust me—you do not want to see your name in the Blotter.

I could be one of those writers who spends an entire day in pajamas, but I don’t feel like the day has any merit until I’ve showered and dressed. Additional grooming is another matter entirely. I have just returned from a lunchtime trip to Trader Joe’s where I realized—upon gazing into the mirrored glass above some of the pre-prepared dinners—that I never brushed my hair today. There’s really no point in getting up and worrying about what you’ll wear if you forget to brush your hair, is there? Thankfully, I never forget to brush my teeth but remembering to put on a little make-up? Another one of my issues.

Work attire usually consists of tee shirts and jeans. However, there are some days that require that I leave the house to see a client and on those days, I usually put on a pair of nicer pants and a blouse with a cardigan. My mother calls these “wake clothes” because they are too dressy to hang around the house in, yet not dressy enough to wear to a wedding. To her, they represent the clothes that we normal folk call “business casual” but since we’re a wake-professional family (all Irish-Catholic families are to some degree), she has denoted them “wake clothes.” Feel free to adopt this phrase into your vernacular. Guaranteed, most everyone will know of which you speak. Incidentally, husband I went to Bermuda this summer to a resort that had five restaurants on the premises, many requiring “smart casual” wear. We wore our wake clothes. We weren’t turned away.

The only problem with the tee shirt/jean combo is that it doesn’t allow me to wear many of the fifty-odd pairs of shoes that I own, many stilettos, most dressier than the usual daily ensemble requires. So every once in a while, just to shake things up, I will put on a pair of shoes that I shouldn’t be caught dead in during the day in the middle of the week and prance on down to the A&P to clickety-clack along the aisles, feeling like Amazonian shopping woman.

But here’s an equally thought-provoking question that I’d love your input on. What’s on your desk when you write? What are your magic writing talismans?

Maggie Barbieri


  1. No talismans on my desk, just a lot of stuff. Have what I think I might need close at hand like a box of tissues, notebook and pens, other tablets for writing notes as ideas occur to me--for the current book, the PSWA conference program I'm planning for next year, and anything else I'm working on. And of course the phone is right next to the computer.


  2. Nothing too exotic on my desk. Just a dictionary, thesaurus, a couple of grammar references... But then I avoid my desk like the plague anyway. When I write, I usually drag my laptop someplace quiet. (i.e. far enough away from the kids that I can think, but close enough that I can still supervise them.) My favorite place is on the back porch when they are in the yard playing ball, swinging, playing in the sandbox, etc...

    But then maybe I would improve my odds of getting published someday if I did get a better routine that involved a desk and a few talismans. I'll have to give that some thought!

  3. I don't even have a phone on my desk, just some reference books, an organizer with essential doodads, a cup with pens/pencils, and a framed photo of Ed and me dancing at our reception (awwww!). Oh, yeah, and my computer (okay, one monitor and two towers that my husband connected with a switch, as one's dedicated to writing and the other I use to get online and download things). I feel like we're on a theme this week with clothes! My blog for Friday is about my drifing fashion sense, and I wrote it before I knew what anyone else was doing. Great minds and all that! ;-)