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Daily Rituals : Women at Work
by Mason Currey




Overview -


More of Mason Currey's irresistible Daily Rituals, this time exploring the daily obstacles and rituals of women who are artists--painters, composers, sculptors, scientists, filmmakers, and performers. We see how these brilliant minds get to work, the choices they have to make: rebuffing convention, stealing (or secreting away) time from the pull of husbands, wives, children, obligations, in order to create their creations.


From those who are the masters of their craft (Eudora Welty, Lynn Fontanne, Penelope Fitzgerald, Marie Curie) to those who were recognized in a burst of acclaim (Lorraine Hansberry, Zadie Smith) . . . from Clara Schumann and Shirley Jackson, carving out small amounts of time from family life, to Isadora Duncan and Agnes Martin, rejecting the demands of domesticity, Currey shows us the large and small (and abiding) choices these women made--and continue to make--for their art: Isak Dinesen, I promised the Devil my soul, and in return he promised me that everything I was going to experience would be turned into tales, Dinesen subsisting on oysters and Champagne but also amphetamines, which gave her the overdrive she required . . . And the rituals (daily and otherwise) that guide these artists: Isabel Allende starting a new book only on January 8th . . . Hilary Mantel taking a shower to combat writers' block (I am the cleanest person I know) . . . Tallulah Bankhead coping with her three phobias (hating to go to bed, hating to get up, and hating to be alone), which, could she mute them, would make her life as slick as a sonnet, but as dull as ditch water . . . Lillian Hellman chain-smoking three packs of cigarettes and drinking twenty cups of coffee a day--and, after milking the cow and cleaning the barn, writing out of elation, depression, hope (That is the exact order. Hope sets in toward nightfall. That's when you tell yourself that you're going to be better the next time, so help you God.) . . . Diane Arbus, doing what gnaws at her . . . Colette, locked in her writing room by her first husband, Henry Gauthier-Villars (nom de plume: Willy) and not being let out until completing her daily quota (she wrote five pages a day and threw away the fifth). Colette later said, A prison is one of the best workshops . . . Jessye Norman disdaining routines or rituals of any kind, seeing them as a crutch . . . and Octavia Butler writing every day no matter what (screw inspiration).
Germaine de Sta l . . . Elizabeth Barrett Browning . . . George Eliot . . . Edith Wharton . . . Virginia Woolf . . . Edna Ferber . . . Doris Lessing . . . Pina Bausch . . . Frida Kahlo . . . Marguerite Duras . . . Helen Frankenthaler . . . Patti Smith, and 131 more--on their daily routines, superstitions, fears, eating (and drinking) habits, and other finely (and not so finely) calibrated rituals that help summon up willpower and self-discipline, keeping themselves afloat with optimism and fight, as they create (and avoid creating) their creations.

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More About Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

 
 
 

Overview


More of Mason Currey's irresistible Daily Rituals, this time exploring the daily obstacles and rituals of women who are artists--painters, composers, sculptors, scientists, filmmakers, and performers. We see how these brilliant minds get to work, the choices they have to make: rebuffing convention, stealing (or secreting away) time from the pull of husbands, wives, children, obligations, in order to create their creations.


From those who are the masters of their craft (Eudora Welty, Lynn Fontanne, Penelope Fitzgerald, Marie Curie) to those who were recognized in a burst of acclaim (Lorraine Hansberry, Zadie Smith) . . . from Clara Schumann and Shirley Jackson, carving out small amounts of time from family life, to Isadora Duncan and Agnes Martin, rejecting the demands of domesticity, Currey shows us the large and small (and abiding) choices these women made--and continue to make--for their art: Isak Dinesen, I promised the Devil my soul, and in return he promised me that everything I was going to experience would be turned into tales, Dinesen subsisting on oysters and Champagne but also amphetamines, which gave her the overdrive she required . . . And the rituals (daily and otherwise) that guide these artists: Isabel Allende starting a new book only on January 8th . . . Hilary Mantel taking a shower to combat writers' block (I am the cleanest person I know) . . . Tallulah Bankhead coping with her three phobias (hating to go to bed, hating to get up, and hating to be alone), which, could she mute them, would make her life as slick as a sonnet, but as dull as ditch water . . . Lillian Hellman chain-smoking three packs of cigarettes and drinking twenty cups of coffee a day--and, after milking the cow and cleaning the barn, writing out of elation, depression, hope (That is the exact order. Hope sets in toward nightfall. That's when you tell yourself that you're going to be better the next time, so help you God.) . . . Diane Arbus, doing what gnaws at her . . . Colette, locked in her writing room by her first husband, Henry Gauthier-Villars (nom de plume: Willy) and not being let out until completing her daily quota (she wrote five pages a day and threw away the fifth). Colette later said, A prison is one of the best workshops . . . Jessye Norman disdaining routines or rituals of any kind, seeing them as a crutch . . . and Octavia Butler writing every day no matter what (screw inspiration).
Germaine de Sta l . . . Elizabeth Barrett Browning . . . George Eliot . . . Edith Wharton . . . Virginia Woolf . . . Edna Ferber . . . Doris Lessing . . . Pina Bausch . . . Frida Kahlo . . . Marguerite Duras . . . Helen Frankenthaler . . . Patti Smith, and 131 more--on their daily routines, superstitions, fears, eating (and drinking) habits, and other finely (and not so finely) calibrated rituals that help summon up willpower and self-discipline, keeping themselves afloat with optimism and fight, as they create (and avoid creating) their creations.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781524732950
  • ISBN-10: 1524732958
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: March 2019
  • Page Count: 416
  • Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Well Read: March 2019

If you attend author readings, you know that some of the most frequently asked questions involve a writer’s methods: Do you write every day? Longhand or computer? Morning, noon or night? This fascination with writerly habits is really an attempt to understand the slippery mystery of creativity rather than its bare mechanics, and it provided the impetus for Mason Currey’s immensely popular Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (2013). Currey took some flack because he only included 27 women in that book, so as a corrective he has put together a follow-up volume, Daily Rituals: Women at Work.

Of the 143 artists profiled, 63 are writers (a handful of others count writing among their multifaceted accomplishments). The rest run the gamut—visual artists, filmmakers, dancers, choreographers, actors, performance artists, composers, costume designers, one scientist (Marie Curie) and a few who share that peculiarly French occupation, the salonniére, or a host of literary salons. Most are Western, and the majority are white (a fact that may open up Currey for further censure), but the selection is broad enough in disciplines and chronology to offer an interesting cross section of daily approaches to art. We learn that Edith Wharton wrote in bed each morning, avoiding houseguests until noon. At the opposite end of the economic spectrum, Harriet Jacobs wrote “at irregular intervals, whenever I could snatch an hour from household duties.” Alice Walker wrote The Color Purple in the brief hours when her daughter was at school, while Katherine Anne Porter, whom Marianne Moore called the world’s worst procrastinator, wrote in fits and starts, producing only one novel and 27 stories despite living to 90.

Many of these profiles underscore the struggle to carve out creative time amid wifely or motherly duties, as well as other constricting expectations placed on women. Painter Stella Bowen ceded to the needs of her husband, Ford Madox Ford, lamenting, “Pursuing art is not just a matter of finding the time—it is a matter of having a free spirit to bring to it.” Others, such as painter Lee Krasner and actress Lynn Fontanne, cherished the symbiosis they shared with their equally accomplished husbands. Workaholics like Coco Chanel, Edith Head and Martha Graham subsisted on very little sleep, while Tallulah Bankhead admitted, “I hate to go to bed, I hate to get up, and I hate to be alone.” 

There are many pearls of creative wisdom strung throughout Daily Rituals. Still, the overriding lesson one takes away from this charming book is that the path to achievement is as specific to each artist as her art is unique to her vision. We cannot replicate genius by copying another’s idiosyncrasies—we need to cultivate our own.

 

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