Monday, October 25, 2010
A Writer's Time
I came to the study of law because it seemed like a good career for someone who loved reading, writing, and analyzing texts but was not creative enough to make it as a novelist nor independently wealthy enough to risk becoming a medievalist. I also thought that studying law would allow me to make things happen in a way that studying the venerable Bede might not. I question some of my reasoning now, but the decision has turned out to be an excellent one for me. Yet I always admire those who tread the path not taken. One of them is my friend Maud Newton, who was one of my very fist research assistants in her former life--the one she partly abandoned to pursue her dream of writing fiction. Maud (though I still think of her by a different name) is a well known literary blogger, and she and I share a fascination with the writing process. She has a great post this week about her struggles to finish her novel, and it includes the following quotation from E.B. White:
[T]here is nothing harder to estimate than a writer’s time, nothing harder to keep track of. There are moments — moments of sustained creation — when his time is fairly valuable; and there are hours and hours when a writer’s time isn’t worth the paper he is not writing anything on.
I am not a novelist, but I do presume to call myself a writer, and I find it oddly encouraging that the great E.B. White experienced the same joys and frustrations with writing that I do. I plan to track down One Man's Meat, the work from which this quotation was drawn, immediately.
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"I came to the study of law because it seemed like a good career for someone who loved reading, writing, and analyzing texts but was not creative enough to make it as a novelist nor independently wealthy enough to risk becoming a medievalist."
That sentence is certainly a keeper, Lyrissa. Nicely put. A tangential aside: one particularly pleasing thing about legal scholarship is the simultaneous pursuit of analytical and rhetorical elegance. Although sometimes the two are in practical or actual tension, when a blog comment/article/book accomplishes both, I often feel something akin to the aesthetic satisfaction customarily associated with consumption of the creative arts, e.g., music, cinema, literature.
Posted by: Brendan Maher | Oct 25, 2010 11:36:55 PM
This has been a long time coming, but I wanted to say that I really enjoy your posts, Lyrissa, you feel like a kindred soul! Thanks!
Posted by: Chris Lund | Oct 26, 2010 8:16:36 AM
Wow, Maud Newton was your research assistant?! I remember a bunch of years ago she quoted something I had written on her blog and it put me in a good mood for three days (before the inevitable darkness and despair returned, but at least there were the three days...)
Posted by: Jay Wexler | Oct 26, 2010 5:37:08 PM
Major props for the reference to the venerable Bede!
Posted by: Mike Madison | Oct 26, 2010 7:01:24 PM
Very well put.
Posted by: Steve Bainbridge | Oct 26, 2010 9:11:47 PM
That's cool about the Maud Newton RA thing. I've been reading her since 2002 or so.
Posted by: David Z | Oct 29, 2010 11:01:16 AM
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