Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Writing Habit: Coffee with Faulkner

I have a collection of coffee mugs, each with a different logo or quote.  There’s the green mug from “The Jackson Hole Coffee Company;” there’s the tall white mug of a fishing trawler I bought in Sitka, Alaska; there’s the even taller, funnel-shaped mug I bought at the Library of Congress gift shop (“I cannot live without books”—Thomas Jefferson); and there’s the squat mug with Alfred Hitchcock’s pencil-line profile--a souvenir from when my wife and I visited Hollywood.

But the only mug that really counts, the one that’s the motivator as well as drinking vessel, is the white one with the caricature of William Faulkner. There’s a chunk of text curving around the mug—some satiric twaddle about how he played the rabbit “Harvey” in the Jimmy Stewart movie—but it’s the oversized head with the jutting pipe that matters to me.  This is the mug I use when I want to have a “writing day.”  When I reach into the cupboard, I make my determination to, yes, sit at the keyboard and at least stare at the screen, maybe tap a few words, the spirit of William Faulkner sitting on my shoulder, gliding down my arm, lifting my fingers.  To really be productive, to get myself in the right frame of mind, I must have William F. perched there, four inches to the left of my laptop computer.  It’s a silly ritual, but a necessary one.  To write, I must drink from Faulkner.

Lately, it’s been washed nearly every day, so that’s a good thing.


  1. I also have this mug and have had it since I was 16. It is a beloved mug and recently I have noticed a slight defect on the lip, which breaks my heart. Do you know where I might find a replacement? Is that missing the point, do you think?

  2. Joe,

    I know how you feel. I live in terror of the day when, while unloading the dishwasher, my Faulkner mug slips from my grasp and shatters on the floor. It will feel like a grey-cloud curse has fallen over my writing. I depend on this particular mug, out of all the mugs I own, to artificially fuel my writing for the day. I really should drink out of it more often, I suppose.

    At any rate, I did a quick internet search, but couldn't find where I might have purchased it all those many years ago. Perhaps you could try eBay?

    Good luck,