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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.

 

Posted by Lyrissa Lidsky on October 25, 2010 at 10:57 PM in Culture, Lyrissa Lidsky, Weblogs | Permalink

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Comments

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

Very well put.

Posted by: Steve Bainbridge | Oct 26, 2010 9:11:47 PM

Major props for the reference to the venerable Bede!

Posted by: Mike Madison | Oct 26, 2010 7:01:24 PM

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

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

"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

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