Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Feeding the Lake

So I'm working on the new novel, which is the same novel I've been working on for awhile now, and too often it's 156 words done on that day and 258 words on the next day and 171 words done on the day after that.  I write variations of the same words and sentences over and over for a couple of hours to get those 156 or 258 or 171 words, but, come the end of the day's writing stint, that meager total is all I have done to my semi-satisfaction.

In all honesty, that's how most days go, and one gets used to being a snail.

But sometimes its get frustrating, or even depressing, and when it does, I like to think about this quote from the great Jean Rhys. (Born in 1890, died in 1979.  First book, a short story collection, published in 1927; last book, an unfinished autobiography, published in 1979.  So a 52-year career. Total output: 5 novels -- none over 200 pages; 3 collections of short stories - none over 225 pages or so; and the unfinished autobiography - about 175 pages.  And this is someone who spent more of her adult life writing than not writing, so the slim output wasn't because of laziness).

And her quote, spoken late in her life during an interview:

“All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don't matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.”

Slow as I am with my daily trickle of words, I have to say this quote strikes a chord with me. I find, often, that I take heart quite a bit from it. 


Dana King said...

Well put, sir. Content yourself that you feed the lake with fresh, clear water, and not the muddy slime too many others are content to send along.

There's a story I love about James Joyce. A friend comes into Joyce's writing room to get him for dinner and finds the author's head in his hands, staring at the desk.

"James! What's wrong? Is it the work?"

"Of course it's the work, you idiot."

"How many words did you get today?"


"James, for you that's not bad."

"But I don't know what order they go in!"

scott adlerberg said...

Haha. That Joyce! Great story.

Claire Booth said...

What a beautiful quote. Thanks for sharing it, Scott. I'm putting it on my bulletin board right now.