According to my sources (this week’s Time Out), Jilly Cooper types all her (very long) novels on an ancient manual typewriter called Monica. Now I am NOT going to get into the naming of inanimate objects. OK. I am. Only to say that it is exceptionally silly to have a car named Clara and a bicycle named Alphonse. Not to mention a typewriter named Monica. It hints at a lack of intimate relationships with animate objects, such as family members, friends, colleagues. Or pets. Though lord knows, Jilly Cooper has no shortage of pets. (How do I know this? The same way I don’t know about the inner workings of the Tory party — osmosis, or lack thereof.)
And don’t even start me on the naming of body parts. Ever since reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover (over and over) in my teens, the thought of assigning names to anything less than a complete human being has made me a little queasy.
I’ve never read Jilly Cooper’s books, but I’d like to. Judith Krantz was a huge favourite back when I was at the age where you’d begun to love the classics but simply couldn’t find out enough about sex and fashion from them. There was a scene in one of Judith Krantz’s novels known as ‘the creme de menthe’ scene, and I’m not going to tell you any more about it than that. But really. Creme de menthe? Even dipping a throbbing bit of manhood into it wouldn’t get me interested these days. Good scotch straight up, maybe an ice cube, but nothing attached to a person, thank you.
I was going to write about the impossibility of writing without a computer, the lack of a delete button, the inability to move chapters and paragraphs around (though Jilly keeps a pair of scissors attached to Monica for cutting out good paragraphs she might want to use elsewhere. Why not just get a Mac, Jilly?) She also keeps each chapter in a carrier bag. If I were going to keep every chapter in a separate place (as opposed to in a single file on my laptop, Jilly) I’d go for the slim leather binder from Smythson’s. Carrier bags, Jilly? Yuk.
But, to each his (or her) own. Ain’t no right way to write. With the possible exception of mine.