Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Suketu Mehta on napping

There’s an long and interesting interview of Suketu Mehta, author of the famous non-fiction book on Mumbai, Maximum City, in the Believer magazine. The interview reveals a lot about his background and his struggle to become a writer. All that might seem very serious, but Mehta’s answers are often playful. In my view, he makes his most salient point in the beginning of the interview, when he talks about laziness as an asset, and more specifically about the regenerative effects of taking naps during the day.

I couldn’t agree more, given that I close my office door, not, as is assumed, for privacy and work, but for deep, immensely satisfying and refreshing 20-minute naps. There’s nothing more annoying that a jarring knock on the door that interrupts this sojourn of mine back into the world of dreams. Anyway, here’s Mehta:
You know, Bertrand Russell wrote an essay extolling sloth. I think [that’s] the difference between civilized and uncivilized society—societies where the afternoon nap is a regular feature. I nap every day, wherever I am. I have a big lunch, which I cook myself, and then I nap for at least an hour. It’s like having a second morning. The kind of stuff one writes after getting up from morning sleep and afternoon sleep is very different. When you get up from morning sleep, you’re writing straight from dreams. For me it’s much more wildly creative. But if I need to do detailed work—editing or paying my bills or writing a new scene for a nonfiction article in which facts are more important, then I write it after my afternoon nap. Someone should do a study on writers and their sleep habits and how that influences their work. Who wrote what sections of what book after sleeping at what time?
Interview link via Amitava's blog. I like Believer interviews; here's my post on a different Believer interview, The necessary vanity of a writer, from last year.


Pallavi said...

lucky are those who get noon siestas...i dont no matter how hard i try!

Hari said...

Yes, indeed, I do count myself lucky!