Today would have been the 97th birthday of writer and film director Marguerite Duras. She was born Marguerite Donnadieu in French Indochina, grew up in poverty, and at 15 took an older Chinese lover, weaving him into several very different novels and memoirs down the line. She was a member of the French Communist Party, then worked for the Vichy government, and eventually joined the Resistance. An unrepentant alcoholic most of her life, she dried out in her 70s (with the help of her young muse, Yann Andréa) and went on to do some of her best work.
Duras was a woman of contradictions, and tended to romanticize the bottle a bit much for my taste when she was drinking. But she did offer one of my favorite bits of writing advice; even if not taken literally, it still applies to much of the creative process:
It’s uncomfortable sitting at a round table: Your elbows aren’t resting on anything and you can’t lean on them to rest from writing, and while you’re writing they’re sticking out into nowhere, and if you don’t notice that right away you tell yourself, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m tired,” and it’s because your elbows aren’t resting on the table.
(via This Recording)