Portrait of M. Victor Hugo (1879) by Léon Bonnat. Click for hi-def image. (Via)
“All good things must begin”
Wonderful journals from the science-fiction author Octavia Butler. More here.
I will find the way to do this So be it! See to it!
We internalize all the negative things our culture feeds us about ourselves. We internalize all the negative things our parents (also self-hating) feed us about ourselves. We accept limits that do not exist — or would not if we were not so well prepared to accept them.
Strive Always — In All Ways At All Times — Always For Intensity. Cold or Hot, Hard or Soft, Gut-Wrenching or Deeply Stilling Utter Intensity.
Dorothy Parker, blocked
In June 1945, Dorothy Parker telegrams her editor to inform him she has writer’s block:
Via Letters of Note.
George Saunders on writing
Arthur Conan Doyle on the origin of Sherlock Holmes
Turning time into language
Adam Gopnik’s story on Trollope in the New Yorker touches on
his very Victorian work ethic: he wrote for money, and he wrote to schedule, putting pen to paper from half past five to half past eight every morning and paying a servant an extra fee to roust him up with a cup of coffee. He made a record of exactly how much each of his novels had earned, and efficiency and economy, taken together, got him a reputation as a philistine drudge.
Trollope was, in truth, merely being practical about the problems of writing: three hours a day is all that’s needed to write successfully. Writing is turning time into language, and all good writers have an elaborate, fetishistic relationship to their working hours. Writers talking about time are like painters talking about unprimed canvas and pigments.
Not sure I agree with Gopnik’s three-hour rule. Three hours a day may have been enough for Anthony Trollope to write successfully, but you, alas, are not Anthony Trollope.
It is interesting to think of writing as “turning time into language.” Of course, Gopnik is not saying that’s all writing is. He is making a simpler point about Trollope’s practicality and discipline. (Otherwise the phrase is meaningless: all art forms can be reduced to “turning time into” something — sculpture, music, painting, etc.). Still, it is a useful formulation for writers to keep in mind. Looking back at these monstrously productive Victorians, it is easy for a writer to get psyched out. Better to use Trollope as a daily reminder to turn your time into text, and be done with him.
Colorized by Edvos. Date and photographer unknown. (Via Colorized History.)
More on Nabokov’s immigration to America here.