Friday, February 1, 2013


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.  

            Her 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.
            Nothing pleases Apollo better than the slaughtering of a frivolous irresponsible reviewer on his altar.

            To make astute people believe that one is what one is not is actually harder than to actually become what one wants to appear.

1 comment:

lorac said...

I was languishing for want of some Gruberisms and now I am refreshed. Thank-you, Michael.