Apr. 9, 2010

Can a writer quit?

J.D.-Salinger-1951

… our tendency to view writing as a sort of an existential vocation, rather than a job, gets in the way of our ability to grasp that a person who writes one or two (or even five) books at one stage of his life ought not to be constantly asked when their next is coming out — because maybe they’ve turned to a new focus for their life’s work and the real answer is that they’re no longer a writer. Publishing pundits seem convinced that Salinger was sitting on a treasure trove of new work in his run-down New Hampshire home … But the evidence seems limited, in light of Salinger’s noted reluctance to share his work with anyone. Yet we continued to live and hope that something would turn up — because it’s easier to pursue false hopes and prolong fandom, than to avoid entertaining the possibility that he simply wasn’t especially interested in writing — or publishing — any more.

— Jean Hannah Edelstein, Guardian Books Blog, “Once a Writer, Always a Writer?”

Image: Salinger in 1951.

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