Habits Of A Literary Man by Bill Nye
Story type: Essay
The editor of an Eastern health magazine, having asked for information relative to the habits, hours of work, and style and frequency of feed adopted by literary men, and several parties having responded who were no more essentially saturated with literature than I am, I now take my pen in hand to reveal the true inwardness of my literary life, so that boys, who may yearn to follow in my footsteps and wear a laurel wreath the year round in place of a hat, may know what the personal habits of a literary party are.
I rise from bed the first thing in the morning, leaving my couch not because I am dissatisfied with it, but because I cannot carry it with me during the day.
I then seat myself on the edge of the bed and devote a few moments to thought. Literary men who have never set aside a few moments on rising for thought will do well to try it.
I then insert myself into a pair of middle-aged pantaloons. It is needless to say that girls who may have a literary tendency will find little to interest them here.
Other clothing is added to the above from time to time. I then bathe myself. Still this is not absolutely essential to a literary life. Others who do not do so have been equally successful.
Some literary people bathe before dressing.
I then go down stairs and out to the barn, where I feed the horse. Some literary men feel above taking care of a horse, because there is really nothing in common between the care of a horse and literature, but simplicity is my watchword. T. Jefferson would have to rise early in the day to eclipse me in simplicity. I wish I had as many dollars as I have got simplicity.
I then go in to breakfast. This meal consists almost wholly of food. I am passionately fond of food, and I may truly say, with my hand on my heart, that I owe much of my great success in life to this inward craving, this constant yearning for something better.
During this meal I frequently converse with my family. I do not feel above my family, at least, if I do, I try to conceal it as much as possible. Buckwheat pancakes in a heated state, with maple syrup on the upper side, are extremely conducive to literature. Nothing jerks the mental faculties around with greater rapidity than buckwheat pancakes.
After breakfast the time is put in to good advantage looking forward to the time when dinner will be ready. From 8 to 10 A. M., however, I frequently retire to my private library hot-bed in the hay mow, and write 1,200 words in my forthcoming book, the price of which will be $2.50 in cloth and $4 with Russia back.
I then play Copenhagen with some little girls 21 years of age, who live near by, and of whom I am passionately fond.
After that I dig some worms, with a view to angling. I then angle. After this I return home, waiting until dusk, however, as I do not like to attract attention. Nothing is more distasteful to a truly good man of wonderful literary acquirements, and yet with singular modesty, than the coarse and rude scrutiny of the vulgar herd.
In winter I do not angle. I read the “Pirate Prince” or the “Missourian’s Mash,” or some other work, not so much for the plot as the style, that I may get my mind into correct channels of thought I then play “old sledge” in a rambling sort of manner. I sometimes spend an evening at home, in order to excite remark and draw attention to my wonderful eccentricity.
I do not use alcohol in any form, if I know it, though sometimes I am basely deceived by those who know of my peculiar prejudice, and who do it, too, because they enjoy watching my odd and amusing antics at the time.
Alcohol should be avoided entirely by literary workers, especially young women. There can be no more pitiable sight to the tender hearted, than a young woman of marked ability writing an obituary poem while under the influence of liquor.
I knew a young man who was a good writer. His penmanship was very good, indeed. He once wrote an article for the press while under the influence of liquor. He sent it to the editor, who returned it at once with a cold and cruel letter, every line of which was a stab. The letter came at a time when he was full of remorse.
He tossed up a cent to see whether he should blow out his brains or go into the ready-made clothing business. The coin decided that he should die by his own hand, but his head ached so that he didn’t feel like shooting into it. So he went into the ready-made clothing business, and now he pays taxes on $75,000, so he is probably worth $150,000. This, of course, salves over his wounded heart, but he often says to me that he might have been in the literary business to-day if he had let liquor alone.