I seem to be recovered from the recent crud, with only some residual
brain damage, or maybe this is just the next phase of the disease. It is far harder for me to
write than it was a few months ago.
The ideas appear in my mind, the characters and the dialog, but I can’t
seem to get them out on the screen with anything close to my former
velocity. In fact, I seem to going
at about half speed. I’ve been working on the present book since May, 2012, and
I have only somewhat over 200 pages done.
I tell myself that a historical novel is vastly harder to write than a
contemporary thriller and so there are many stoppages when one has to discover
some odd fact before one can proceed.
Or it is mere debility? (But I shy from believing that, as I am uniquely immune from the effects of aging.) Meanwhile, I know the world is avidly awaiting a vast, baggy
historical novel about central Europe, so I am hurrying as fast as I can.
I also see that I am doing this blog all wrong compared to other
blogs I come across. It’s supposed
to be daily stuff, short bits, but I don’t seem to be able to do that. It bores me terribly. Fiction writers’ lives, I think, are just not that
interesting; the work might be interesting—every writer hopes so—but the life
is dull, every day more or less the same, assessed in terms of words spilled
out on the page, and how do you know whether they’re any good? Yet so many people
seem to want to be writers.
It’s a mystery to me. So
this seems to be a miscellany of random thoughts, the kind of stuff that goes
into a notebook and gets dragged into a novel if appropriate, but here tarted
up into small essays.
Georg Christof Lichtenberg (1742-1799) a writer I admire (and here I
am one with Goethe, Voltaire, Kant, Nietsche and Wittgenstein) used to
analogize a writer’s notes to the way that merchants arranged their
accounts. First they wrote down
everything bought and sold in their “Waste-Books” in no particular order. Then they ordered and arranged their
daily accounts into a “Journal,” and at intervals entered the amounts at
double-entry in their “Ledgers.”
In analogy, the Waste-Book is the daily note-taking that most writers
do. I use a paper notebook and
also sometimes Apple’s Note feature on the iPhone and iPad, in which I can at
least read what I’ve written—a great advance. The Ledger, I suppose, is the finished publication, and this
blog is the Journal.
Lichtenberg never managed to write a book; his reputation rests on the contents of his Waste-books, a
remarkable collection of observations and aphorisms.
petticoat had very wide red and blue stripes and looked as if it were made of
theater curtain. I’d have
paid a lot for a front-row center seat, but the curtain was never raised.
pleases Apollo better than the slaughtering of a frivolous irresponsible
reviewer on his altar.
make astute people believe that one is what one is not is actually harder than
to actually become what one wants to appear.