Monday, May 28, 2007

Humility comes with the territory

Garrison Keiler, from the International Herald Tribune, on authors and books:

"And when the book is done, which it will be, and it's in the bookstore, people ask, "How does it feel?" You say, "Great!" but that's not true. You feel relief, and disbelief, and a sort of sorrow that it's gone and what will you do with your life now? Also there is that long passage in the sixth chapter that you meant to rewrite and did not and now you know you should have. And there is that typo. The publisher sent you a copy of the book hot off the press and you opened it at random and there it is, the word "releif" - God showing you that no matter how hard you try, you still fall short. Humility comes with the territory.

Writers get obsessed with a project and lock the doors and sit and work at it, like animals in a leg trap trying to chew through the leg, which is not good strategy.

My advice is to get out of the house and take a walk, a good first cure for the depression that hits after you've been working for a year and it dawns on you that your book is not "Huckleberry Finn" but you must finish it anyway because the publisher's generous advance has been spent on a new pair of shoes for the baby and she has worn a hole in them already, so you press on - on - on - though it strikes you that the world has a great many books already and does it need yours?"