William S. Burroughs on Writing Routines

Extract from Oliver Harris' The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1945-1959
William S. Burroughs
Excerpt from a letter written by William S. Burroughs addressed to Allen Ginsberg (Tangiers, 13 December 1954), in which he describes the process of writing the 'skits' or 'routines' that comprise Naked Lunch :
I am up to my neck in this new work right now plus kicking habit. Besides I don't have a complete MS. In fact I have hardly any of Queer. I still think Roosevelt skit is funny. Sounds to me like Rexroth just doesn't dig what a routine is. You don't study Zen and then write a scholarly routine for Chrissakes! Routines are completely spontaneous and proceed from whatever fragmentary knowledge you have. In fact a routine is by nature fragmentary, inaccurate. There is no such thing as an exhaustive routine, nor does the scholarly-type mind run to routines.

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