Monday, February 23, 2009

The Writer's Process

"Anyone moderately familiar with the rigours of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how he wrote and it seemed good; read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had his good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw his book plain before him and it vanished; acted his people's parts as he ate; mouthed them as he walked; now cried; now laughed; vacillated between this style and that; now preferred the heroic and pompous; next the plain and simple; now the vales of Tempe; then the fields of Kent or Cornwall; and could not decide whether he was the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world."
Ladies and gentlemen: Virginia Woolf!  This comes from her infinitely engaging novel Orlando.  
I must say it makes me so happy to read these words, not only because of the accuracy, but because it reassures me that I am not alone in my process.
Yet, this does beg the question: is it better to feel comforted and know there are others that experience things as I do, it better to feel alone and know that I am unique and thus, might be able to say something original?
But then again, how can you ever know if you are unique?
Which does, of course, lead to other questions about the meaning of "unique," the possibilities of individuals vs. products of certain societies...but I think I shall leave that be for now.

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