When I Write: Philip Hoare

• May 12, 2014 • Tags: , ,

Pen or computer? (Material) 

Starting in a notebook or scraps of paper, gradually accumulating to ever-expanding screeds on my laptop…

Sitting or standing? (Pose)

… which is pulled over my bed, where I write.

Morning or evening? (Time)

From five am onwards… never in the afternoon or evening

Punctual or fitful? (Time-keeping) 

Obsessively, when at home, to time, stopping to swim, eat breakfast, lunch, nap, swim, correspond, eat, read and sleep at exactly the same time every day

At home or away? (Venue) 

Where ever, but best at home, on a dark morning before the sun has risen

Hours or words? (Unit of productivity) 

Hours, but more usually minutes…

Smart or casual? (Dress) 

Well, I am in – or on – my bed.

Feed or starve? (Fuel) 

Food and drink at school-like regular intervals

Stimulated or sedate? (Substance) 

Ah, goodbye to all that…

Sound or silence? (Ambience) 

The white noise of my tinnitus

Interruption or distraction? (Nemesis) 

Rooibos tea, ginger biscuits, robins on my window sill, Bowie on YouTube, the gulls calling me from the shore…



The sea surrounds us. It gives us life, provides us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. It is ceaseless change and constant presence. It covers two-thirds of our planet. Yet caught up in our everyday lives, we barely notice it.

In ‘The Sea Inside’, Philip Hoare sets out to rediscover the sea, its islands, birds and beasts. He begins on the south coast where he grew up, a place of almost monastic escape. From there he travels to the other side of the world – the Azores, Sri Lanka, New Zealand – in search of encounters with animals and people. Navigating between human and natural history, he asks what these stories mean for us now.


The Sea Inside, written by Philip Hoare, will be published by 4th Estate on 6th June


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