Monday, September 27, 2004

Writers' deadlines

Having trouble meeting your next deadline? You're not alone, says Jonathan Mahler reports in the New York Times (free registration required).
Novelists are prisoners of their own freedom, a paradox that leads to situations like the one so memorably described by Grady Tripp, the narrator of Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys: "It. . . stood at 2,611 pages, each of them revised and rewritten a half-dozen times. And yet for all of those words expended in charting the eccentric paths of my characters through the violent blue heavens I had set them to cross, they had not even reached their zeniths. I was nowhere near the end."
As Mahler points out, finishing a book can become almost traumatic.
Letting go is not always easy. Working on a book can provide authors with a sense of security. It confers on them the sense - illusory though it may be - of being employed, a comforting thing to someone who wakes up every morning without a compelling reason to put on a pair of pants. And a book is more than a job; it's a colleague, too.

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