2 Truths and a Lie

Are you a writer who has quirks? Superstitions? Or unusual habits? If so, you’re in very good company. Many well-known authors have some unusual writing and/or life habits or experiences (or so they say, I wonder).

§ Benjamin Franklin reportedly wrote in his bathtub. (He’s also credited for bringing the first bathtub to America.)

§ Every morning John Cheever got up, put on a suit, then took an elevator to the basement storage area of his building, where he would strip down to his boxers, then write until lunch. Then? You guessed it: suit back on, back upstairs, ate lunch. After? Yep, back down to the basement!

§ Isabel Allende starts every book on January 8, the same day she started writing her debut novel THE HOUSE OF SPIRITS.

§ Alexander Dumas wrote on different colored paper, depending on what he was writing: pink for non-fiction, blue for fiction, yellow for poetry.

§ Vladimir Nabokov wrote most of his novels on index cards.

§ Dan Brown keeps an hourglass on his desk and, at the end of every hour does calisthenics.

§ Poet William Wordsworth recited his poetry to his dog as he walked. If his dog barked or seemed agitated by what he read, Wordsworth would rewrite the poem.

§ Everyday before writing, P.G. Wodehouse ate the same breakfast of toast and honey or marmalade, a slice of coffee cake, and a mug of tea; as he ate, he read a “breakfast book” like a Rex Stout or an Ngaio Marsh mystery.

§ Novelist Richard Powers writes in bed, speaking his novels aloud to a laptop computer with voice-recognition software.

As I researched the information for this blog, here’s what I realized: most writers—heck, most people—have quirks and habits that would seem weird to other people….but are they true? Who knows! Because, as much as I want to believe these and other facts about writers I found on the Internet, the Internet is not always the most reliable source of information. So who knows if any of these things I just said are true!? Kind of reminds me of that game: two truths and a lie, you just never know.

I do know that if/when I get a book published, in order to get maximum publicity, I will make up the most outrageous story I can about my writing quirks and habits. Because hey, everyone can use some free publicity, right Ben Franklin?

Just to get ready, here I go again! (Even though yesterday I blogged with 7 things about me, and you might already know more about me than you really need to.) Two truths and a lie:

§ I once dined on barbecued hippopotamus on the banks of the Nile River. Tasty!

§ In Kenya, flying ants are considered a delicacy, and when I lived there, I ate a live flying ant. Delish!

§ When I took vertebrate zoology, the professor provided a cookbook for the animals we dissected. Yum!

Can you pick out which thing was a lie? What quirky things do you want to be remembered for? What are two truths and a lie about you?




  1. Ann says:

    Super post! Since I am a food blogger…my quirk is I eat my subject!

  2. Chris Fries says:

    Fun post, Julia!!!!

    My guess to the lie is the hippo-eating. They’re generally protected animals, I believe.

    And you can TOO totally believe everything you read on the internet! I had a friend who knew the hairdresser of the aunt of someone who used to work for someone who knew a guy who worked in the CIA, and I heard that the CIA actually runs the whole Internet, and they have special alien robot-scanners out in Area 51 that filters EVERY post for truth before it even gets posted.

    Here’s my 2 truths and 1 lie:

    — One of the worst jobs I ever had was as a vaccuum cleaner salesperson. I sold only one vacuum (although my mom did like the vacuum…), and only lasted two weeks.
    — One of the worst jobs I ever had was working as a busboy/waiter for a large buffet restaurant, where people who sit at their tables for hours, leave tons of trash, treat me rudely, make me refill drink after drink after drink, and then never tip me. I only lasted two weeks.
    — One of the worst jobs I ever had was as a telemarketer/sales trainee for a ‘shopping club,’ where I cold-called people to try and bring them in for a intense high-pressure sales pitch about joining a ‘club’ for a monthly fee where they could buy stuff at ‘wholesale’ prices. I only lasted two weeks.

  3. Ann, I LOVE that quirk!

    Chris, I’m guessing your lie is the busboy one…. but I’m gonna tell you, I could go head to head on worst job stories! My shortest: half a day! I told them I was going to lunch, hit the elevator and NEVER WENT BACK…. it was TERRIBLE, not unlike your #3 scenario, but with an employment agency!
    As for my lie? I’ll reveal it at the end of the day or first thing tomorrow! Funny comment! 🙂

  4. Chris Fries says:

    @Julia: Doh! I just realized you could easily research my truths/lie by checking out the ‘About Me’ on my blog.

    And the ‘About Me’ has to be true, because I posted it on the Internet.

    But even if you peeked, good job figuring out the lie! But then, I’ve always been a terrible liar. Although I may be lying about that…

  5. Chris, I’M SO INSULTED!! 😀
    Seriously, I did not peek–I only guessed the busboy because it’s something that someone could make up never having done it, just by observing! Yes, I agree, we could ALL be liars!

  6. This is fascinating, especially Isabel Allende’s quirk (if it’s true). I guess if inspiration comes on another day, she just pushes it aside.

    I have no idea which of the three facts about you is a lie. But I see a great post (maybe about guest post??) in your future about your adventurous eating experiences!

  7. Okay… that’s it. I’m writing the rest of my novel in the bathtub. If it’s good enough for Ben Franklin, it’s good enough for me. Thank goodness for AquaNotes! 🙂

  8. Cynthia Robertson says:

    I’m gonna guess the hippo is the lie. Don’t ask me why!
    I knew that about Dan Brown. And I kinda do the same thing. Sitting is not good for the bod!
    I love this list of strange facts. John Cheever’s seems weirdest to me. WHAT was all that dressing and undressing about? Can you imagine coming down to your building’s storage – just looking for your box of Christmas ornaments, or whatever – and there’s a guy typing away in his skivvies?

  9. Leah says:

    I bet the second one about Kenya is the lie. I’m actually so bad at coming up with lies about myself. A truth is that I would rather sit on my couch alone than go mingle at a party. Although this is probably not surprising given my introverted nature.

  10. I’ll ‘fess up about my lie late tonight/early tomorrow in my blog

    Jen, No kidding about Isabel Allende…weird, but maybe she just takes notes like crazy then actually turns on the computer and writes on the 8th.

    Dina, If you write your novel in the bathtub, definitely include it in your query. And the book jacket. Then I’ll blog about YOU next 🙂

    Cynthia, You are so wise to be like our good friend Dan. (He’s a fellow writer, I think he’d be ok with me calling him friend.) Yes, agreed that Cheever is the weirdest. What was he thinking? 🙂

    Leah, I’m so with you on the couch vs. party. I HATE parties and almost without fail my husband (who is even more introverted) and I end up chatting with one another and then leaving. Pathetic! (Then I wonder why we never get invited anywhere…hmmm….)

  11. I’m going to guess that the third one (about the zoology professor) is the lie…because it’d believe any crazy adventure coming from you!

    Some of my writer quirks is that I have a big blue sweater that I have to be wearing when I work on fiction early in the morning.

    I can’t focus if my hands are dry, so I keep hand lotion at my desk at all times (this was never an issue when I lived in Florida, but I must’ve taken the humidity for granted because the air in Texas is DRY).

  12. CMSmith says:

    Do you have, or are you writing a book?

  13. kidstuph says:

    I’m used to the quirks in sports, but I’ve never considered it in writing per se, but now thinking about it, it totally makes sense. And I love your plan of making up a quirk… I should do that too, since my writing habits are pretty tame

    My guess is the hippopotamus. that would be a serious bbq, though

  14. You are so darn creative, woman! My guess of which the lie is the hippo, though it could also be the cookbook. Hmm… Does this mean you’re a good liar since you’ve stumped me?

    I don’t “think” I have any weird writer habits or rituals. But maybe in time I will develop them. I once read a post that said those types of writer rituals are quite conducive to productivity and that we should all adopt one. So I guess, since I am heading to the writing studio on wheels, I will first turn westward and hop up and down five times, throw my hands up in the air & scream into the wind, “I WILL BECOME A NOVELIST,” then bow, and head to the camper.

  15. Nancy Kelley says:

    This was such a fun post to read. I might blog my two truths and a lie next week–it’s a great topic for a post.

    I’m looking at the list of famous quirks, and I think Wordsworth is my favorite.

  16. Okay, so general consensus at our house (six of us) is that the lie is actually the last one. I went to Egypt many, many years ago and I remember learning about several things I had no idea people ate. So maybe you’ve tried Hippo. Who knows. At any rate, you turned a blog post into an over 30 minute conversation with my five kids, so thank you for that. 🙂

  17. Ok I’m gonna be quirky and suggest that all of the things you’ve done were true! Isn’t this what makes writers so unique?

  18. Natalia, Believe it or not, the Zoology professor really DID give us a cookbook! Weird, huh? (I couldn’t eat the ant, so that was the lie.) I love the blue sweater! And the hand lotion…. when your novel is published I’ll write about your writerly habits! 🙂

    Christine, I am writing two books and I’ve written 3 Middle Grade novels (pre-published)…and THAT is no lie!

    Kenneth, Yes, the hippo WAS serious bbq–and really good! Imagine: a bbq on the banks of the Nile, what an evening! I think sports players have a lot more quirks than writers, but I may be wrong…

    Melissa, THANK YOU, you always say the nicest things! The lie was the only one you didn’t guess. I don’t know if it’s that I’m a good liar or just that I’ve had done some crazy things! I LOVE your ideas for rituals! MEH and I were very amused! 😀

    Nancy, So glad you liked it and might write the 2 lies and a truth blog yourself! Let me know when you do so I can guess!! 🙂

    Nicole, Honestly that is the sweetest, nicest comment I’ve ever gotten on my blog. I love the fact that something I wrote inspired fun and conversation with you and your kids–probably because I love those kinds of conversations with my kids! Awesome! (But sorry you guys were wrong…really, your kids thought I’d eat a live flying ant? My kids would be amused!)

    Tess, Now I know YOUR quirk!! 🙂 But, unfortunately you guessed wrong: I really did tell one lie: I never ate the flying ant!
    Thanks so much for the visit and your comment!!