Virginia Woolf On Writing Quickly
"One thinks one has learnt to write quickly; and one hasn’t."
- Virginia Woolf, 11 Oct 1929, as she worked slowly, slowly through the first starts of what would become her novel The Waves. (Which would take her two years
Virginia Woolf on writing fast
One thinks one has learnt to write quickly; and one hasn’t.
Virginia Woolf, 11 Oct 1929, as she moves slowly through the first starts of what would become her novel The Waves. Which would take her two years.
Virginia Woolf is happy, but not with D.H. Lawrence, not at all
In the fall of 1932, the same year she fell apart in March and fainted in August, Virginia Woolf went on a happy compositional tear in October and November, writing 60,000 words in about 60 days. “All flowing into the stream of its own accord,” as she put it elsewhere. Amid this she recorded this happiness:
I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.… >I’m interested in watching what goes on for the moment without wishing to take part — a good frame of mind when one’s conscious of power. Then I am backed now by the downs: The country: how happy L. and I are at Rodmell: what a free life that is—sweeping 30 or 40 miles; coming in when and how we like; sleeping in the empty house; dealing triumphantly with interruptions; and diving daily into that divine loveliness— always some walk; and the gulls on the purple plough; or going over to Tarring Neville—these are the flights I most love now— in the wide, the indifferent air. No being jerked, teased, tugged.
… and then, irritated with D.H. Lawrence’s *Letters*, finishes the diary entry by giving him a good proper spanking.
It’s harrowing: this panting effort after something…the brutality of civilized society to this panting agonized man: and how futile it was. All this makes certain gasping in his letters. And none of it seems essential. So he pants and jerks. Then too I don’t like strumming with two fingers— and the arrogance. After all, English has one million words: why confine yourself to 6? and praise yourself of so doing.… >And why does Aldous say he was an “artist”? Art is being rid of all preaching.
“Haddock and sausage meat. I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down.”
— Virginia Woolf, in her penultimate diary entry, 8 March 1941. Four years earlier she had written, “Nothing is real unless I write it down.”
“The curation was probably the most difficult part of the entire exercise, but the most important: if you take and show a thousand excellent images, none will really stand out or be memorable. If you only show ten of those, they’ll be outstanding. Similarly, if you shoot a 990 crap images, but show the 10 good ones, nobody will suspect you’re not shooting like that most of the time. As photographers, we are only judged on what we show, not what we shoot*.”
My TL,DR version of “Die, Selfish Gene, Die”
Many have liked “Die, Selfish Gene, Die,” my Aeon piece challenging Richard Dawkins “Selfish Gene” meme. Quite a few readers have objected to and disagreed with the story, sometimes sharply. Some readers have both liked it andobjected to it. I thank…
Maker’s Schedule versus Manager’s Schedules
Clive Thompson, who’s now trying to juggle his book tour with presumably actually doing newer work, steered me toward this gem from programmer Paul Graham. Feel free to substitute “writer” for maker throughout. I feel the maker’s pain.
At first, even Michael Lewis sucked. Here’s how he got better.
At first, even Michael Lewis (science writer!) sucked. Here’s how he got better. @ Neuron Culture
He just refused to do the rational thing and quit. In a longer piece, well worth reading in toto, Brain Pickings describes how best-selling author Michael Lewis (barely) got his start in writing:
Even though his thesis adviser at Princeton praised the…