Wednesday, January 9, 2008

One Hundred Paintings, One Million Words

I often discuss problems, discoveries and emotions related to writing with Scott. I learn a lot from his experiences as a painter and from what he’s observed as a teacher.

It's not uncommon for beginning painters to become frustrated at their limitations. He always tells them the same thing: Talk to me when you’ve done a hundred paintings. I’ve noticed that novelists will often say they’ve written a million words by the time they’re published.

I was sharing with Scott that I’ve been surprised at what’s come out of my participation in the Dickens Challenge, and that contrary to what I used to think, a little pressure in the form of a weekly deadline seems to actually help, not hinder creativity.

Writing to a deadline has also helped me to get over my frustration at not being Joyce Carol Oates. If you saw my reading list from 2007 you’ll know that I’m a big fan of literary fiction. Reading great prose shouldn’t be a bad thing, except that it leaves a beginning writer, like me in the horrible position of knowing good writing when I see it, and consequently, feeling entirely inadequate because I can’t create it. The Dickens Challenge eliminates that stumbling block because it demands simply that I produce a chapter a week to the best of my ability. That doesn't leave me time to tweak and fiddle and polish, but it also doesn't allow me to fall into the trap of trying too hard either.

When I explained this problem to Scott, he nodded and said perfectionism breeds paralysis. Yes, yes, yes I agreed. How foolish it all seems when I consider the millions of words that the authors I admire probably wrote before I was able to read their work.

My reluctance to put pen to paper because I have such high expectations of myself would be like a beginning painter finishing two or three paintings and then being unwilling to start on a third unless it was certain to be as good as a Vermeer or a Renoir.

Scott gave me a further bit of insight. A well known painter once said that each time he begins to work, his goal is to create a mediocre painting. This allows him to paint good and sometimes great paintings, but the key is that it allows him to begin.

The time constraints of the Dickens Challenge have had, I think, a similar effect on me. In my mind, I’ve defined this as an experiment to complete a chapter each week and eventually finish the first draft of a novel. Not a great novel or even a good novel, just a completed novel. Timothy Hallinan has a great series of posts on finishing that really gave me the inspiration to focus on this simple, but critical goal. Since the time constraints for the Dickens Challenge force me to work by the seat of my pants and there is no time to edit and polish, I’ve freed myself of nearly all expectations. Lo and behold, this has made the writing far more pleasurable than it’s been with either of my previous attempts at writing novels. By publicly posting the work in progress, I have truly gotten over myself and I've given myself permission to write whatever wants to be written.

Although I know good writing when I see it and I prefer to read literary fiction, I’m well aware that I don’t write that way. I don’t know what my style is. To my surprise, Scott said that he wouldn’t expect me to have developed one yet. Painters learn through a process of conscious and unconscious imitation and after many paintings, an artist eventually discovers his own style.

I think writing tends to be a little less imitative than painting is, but I don’t think we can avoid being influenced in our writing by what we read. Since I read pretty widely, I have no idea what that might mean for me. I'll have to keep writing and find out.

I’ve struggled with the knowledge that nearly every published writer I know wrote one, two or three novels before finally publishing. I believe that knowledge has indirectly hindered my ability to finish either of my two unfinished novels (DC makes three). How could I put everything into something that is very likely never going anywhere?

And then it came to me. I have to finish one or two or ten so that I can learn how, so I can find my style and so I can prove to myself that I can do it. How did I not see that before? This doesn’t make me want to take it any less seriously. To the contrary, I understand that no matter what I end up with at the end, I’ll have learned a lot. Maybe it will be something worth taking further, but more likely it will be something to put aside so that the next one will be that much better.

Certainly, it will take me that much closer to a million words.

The Dickens Challenge writers are posting every Monday at their own blogs and on the Dickens Challenge site. The links are listed on my sidebar so if you have the time, please to try to check them out. We have an interesting mix of styles and stories and some incredible writers.

Thank you to all of you who continue to return to read my weekly excerpts. I sincerely appreciate the time that you take to read and comment.

Everything I've described is my experience. Everyone has a different path, so I am curious as to how my recent experiences and discoveries compare to yours.

34 comments:

The Writers' Group said...

Lisa, I can relate to this post. I, too, am a perfectionist, yet far from perfect. How utterly cruel it is to be so afflcited. Yet, when it's my turn to present to my Writers' Group and I don't yet have the requisite pages, I churn them out. Funny thing is, they usually work. Go figure.

There is no rhyme or reason to this business of writing. Jon Clinch wrote FINN in just a few months, it took Arthur Golden ten years to write Memoirs of a Geisha. It is what it is, no sense in fretting. Just keep writing.

Amy

Therese said...

What Amy said: just keep writing.

I've heard that million-words figure...I think I was close to clocking 500,000 words by the time I finished SOUVENIR. Prior to writing it, I'd written two novels, one of them twice (i.e. started the second draft from scratch and rewrote entirely). I was teaching myself how to write well--by writing.

Some people do see their first finished efforts come out publishable, and published, which is why it's reasonable to believe that goal is possible. Lynne Griffin and Holly Kennedy are two authors I know in that camp.

With my just-finished work, I pre-wrote (and discarded) maybe 200 pages before starting the draft that got finished. Every time I started anew, I thought that start might be The One. That's how I could keep trying. :)

You're making valuable discoveries, and Scott's advice is exactly what I would give you. Your style and voice and even genre-fit will come to you in due time. And you'll learn how much obsessiveness is productive, how much paralyzing.

I'm not the first author to say, remember, you can't revise a blank page.

Julie said...

Really good post, Lisa; interested me of course as I've dabbled in both areas.

One comment someone made to me when I started blogging was that if you blog about anything and everything, your writing 'voice' will eventually appear (guess that applies to different degrees to journaling and writing).

Think you're right that painting is similar - most beginners compare their work with the mature work of artists they admire rather than with their usually inacessible first attempts.[Or believe fairy tales such as Picasso drew like an angel when he was six (when the reality is that most of his early stuff was quietly 'lost'so that no-one could question the legend!)]

In terms of the bit of psych theory
I've read, you're also right about an optimum amount of pressure actually enhancing creativity. Too much and it strangles it, too little and there isn't the motivation.

You've got a wealth of imagery and experience for your subconscious to draw on from life and reading. (Just reminded me - re Shauna's - sub C is accessible to conscious, Un C isn't?) Go with the flow and trust what's already there....!

kristen said...

Lisa, great post! Wise man! I think you and Scott are going to stay very much on our radar in the years to come. You both have so much creativity and so much wisdom to share.

I love Therese's comment "You can't revise a blank page" and so yes, just keep writing. I have the feeling that for you, it is only a matter of time.

Sustenance Scout said...

Time and effort really do make a difference, don't they? I just met the new fifth-grader I'll be mentoring this semester; she's been reading a new short story every Friday to a class of fourth graders, some of whom are finding her work very inspiring. I told her I'M inspired to hear she's writing a story a week!! The fact you're plowing through a chapter a week is even more amazing since each chapter has to hang within a whole. I'm bummed I haven't had the time to read your work yet, but (as usual) there's always a good reason whenever I procrastinate. Let me know when you've gotten to a major turning point in your story, then I'll print out a series of chapters and read them all at once. I think my feedback will be more helpful with a broader view, if that makes any sense. Meanwhile, tell Scott his students through the years have been so fortunate to have him for a teacher! I learned so much from this post, from his insights and from yours. Thanks!! K.

Missy said...

I could sure relate to this post. At my workplace we say "Perfection is the enemy of good enough." I've found that by disciplining myself to blog (almost) every day, I'm getting over my old tendency to not even start things for fear they wouldn't be perfect.

Scott's insight that it might take you a while to find your style was helpful to me. Even though I'm writing every day, I've been wondering, what's my voice? what do I have to say? I'll have to keep in mind that it might take me another few hundred thousand words to figure that out.

Good luck with your novel. I'm truly inspired by the quantity of work you're putting out.

Carleen Brice said...

Someone once told me "perfect is the enemy of good."

I too sometimes put down a book I'm reading because it's so good it's discouraging. But I tell myself the only way to get there is to go from where I am.

Larramie said...

Such good advice and sage wisdom come from Scott and the above comments, but what fills me with pride, Lisa, is that you're no longer talking/thinking/worrying/procrastinating. You're writing and that's WONDERFUL!

Charles Gramlich said...

Even though those writers don't publish their first two or three written manuscripts, that writing isn't wasted because scenes and phrases and plot points almost always return in later books that will be published. I'm glad you are enjoying the Dickens challenge. And in agreement with Scott, it takes a pretty good while to develop a style of writing that is your own.

kate said...

I love this post. I used to fret about voice and wonder if I had one, and I finally realized that I had to write and write to come into my voice. And the more I wrote, the less I worried. (And maybe I even found my voice along the way.) I'm looking forward to reading all your chapters, but I have to go back and start at the beginning.

Mardougrrl said...

I love this post...better than that, I NEEDED this post today. I've always been a "sprinter" as far as writing goes...I used to be able to put together a quick, decent first draft, but I never really felt like I was necessarily learning from any of it. Now...I can't seem to write anything that isn't crap, BUT hopefully that crap is teaching me something. Patience, if nothing else.

Thanks for showing me how to take the long view.

And again, I am amazed at your first draft for the Dickens Challenge. Your voice is getting stronger and more self-assured with every chapter. :)

Ello said...

I can so relate to this. Perfection is paralyzing. I have learned the hard way and this WIP I am not letting my eagerness to get everything perfect, even the smallest detail, sway me from progress. It is important to keep moving forward and yes a deadline can really help. It is wonderful to see how you have been so enlightened by your experiences.

debra said...

Thank you thank you thank you for saying the words 'Perfection is Paralyzing"

It is so.

Lisa said...

Amy, Writing may be one of the only activities where misery does love company. Although I'm not happy to know other people battle the same problems, it is nice to know that it's not just me :)

Therese, "Every time I started anew, I thought that start might be The One. That's how I could keep trying." I like that. I like it a lot. I also think "you can't revise a blank page" is one of my biggest mantras lately!

Julie, Great comments! It's funny about blogging. There have been several times when people have mentioned blogging and writing as if they are interchangeable and for some reason I've never thought about my blogging as writing (public whining maybe!). In a way, I suppose that's been good for me because by separating my blogging from what I consider my "real" writing, I've never stressed about posting -- and judging by the number of mistakes in my posts, I'm sure that's obvious at times. The DC has allowed me to play the same trick on myself and freed me up to just go for it. It's odd how the best way to do something that really matters to me is to approach it as if it doesn't matter at all!

Kristen, I will share your compliment with Scott, although I defer to him on all matters with regard to pursuing a creative life. I am always surprised at how similar the paths and struggles of painters are to writers. He gives me a lot of insight and perspective. And YOU, are on to something -- I owe you an email ;)

Karen, Don't feel bad about not reading the DC excerpts! For one thing, I checked and they average over 2,700 words a piece (I was trying to figure out how many of these would come out to about a 250 page novel so I was doing some calculations), so they are time consuming -- and, I'm not being modest or self-deprecating when I say that they need a lot of sprucing. On the DC forum we've been talking about doing some more detailed critiques by possibly going back and cleaning up the first 3 or 4 chapters and reposting them there. If we do that, I'll let you know. Some of my clunky descriptions and repeated word usage might be cleaned up by then :)

Missy, I'm really glad you stopped by and I want to link to you -- really great blog! I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels like I haven't found my voice or as Therese said, even my genre yet. I don't really know what I write about or how! How crazy is that? I appreciate the encouragement and I think one thing I've started to come to terms with about writing is that it doesn't help to take it too seriously -- and by that I only mean writing as much and as often as possible without worrying about what's coming out. Tim Hallinan said two things at the beginning of the DC that made me laugh, but helped. He quoted Ambrose Bierce and I can't recall exactly what he said but it was something to the effect that most people worry far too much about what people think of them when in reality, most people aren't thinking about them at all. The other thing he said was that if we got started and ended up dropping out somewhere along the line, we weren't going to be banned from the internet. In his Writers' Resources, he also has a reminder that "it's only a book". I've lightened up on myself a lot in the last few months!

Carleen, That's a great quote! Yes, I've decided to read a lot more very good books and as much as I love Ian McEwan, I might have to give him a rest for a while because he only makes me want to throw my laptop out the window :)

Debra, I'll pass that on to Scott since I can't take credit for coming up with it. I hope you are catching your breath after the height of Blue Santa season. What a great story!

Larramie, You are just the best. I never get too old to feel good that someone is proud of me :))))

Charles, I know you've been writing and publishing for a long time now, so I'll take your confirmation to the bank and it makes me feel relieved to hear so much confirmation that finding my voice (and really genre too) isn't supposed to happen overnight. Thanks.

Kate, Glad to hear you are doing well and also that my worries are par for the course. Don't be in too much of a rush to read my excerpts (see note to Karen) :)

Mardougrrl, When I originally wrote the post and in particular with reference to "perfectionism breeds paralysis" I was going to include a note that not only did I identify with that phrase, but that there are two blogging friends I thought of immediately when I heard it and you are one of them :) I've read enough of you work to say that I very seriously doubt anything you write is crap -- you are much too hard on yourself! I hope I am improving as I progress, but I suppose that's one of the challenges to writing and posting immediately. There's never any time to step back and decide if it's anywhere near as crappy as I think it is. The good news is -- I'm not going to worry about it. Keep on writing!

Ello, One of the oh so coolest things about blogging is that I learn so much from everybody out here and what doesn't work one day, might work the next. Best of all, when I have those days when I feel like I must have been insane to think I could write anything, I now know that everybody is always fighting those thoughts back -- even Ian McEwan! :)

Yogamum said...

I'm a little late to the party, but what you say makes so much sense! Scott's observations are so wise. You're lucky to have his perspective!

Sphinx Ink said...

Great post, Lisa, and the comments are great, too. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Writing and painting are very similar in that they are products of a creative mind combined with talent and skill. It's the skill part that we can work on and you've pointed that part out beautifully.

The only thing a painter may not need suffer that a writer always will, is that editing process. No one ever says "If you add a touch more blue in the lower left area and maybe change the vase of roses to dahlias..."

susan@spinning

Denis said...

The Dickens project may be the perfect thing for clearing your path, (and others). I just finished reading the 4th chapter and I'm sure there are a lot of succesful books that wish they were as enjoyable to read. I also agree that you couldn't have a better partner than Scott. Hey - where'd you get the phrase about being Aaron's beard? Very cool!

Melissa Marsh said...

I've always believed, "Write the first draft with your heart; write the second (and 3, 4, 5th) with your head." But this is much easier said than done. If you have the goal of publication in mind, for me, anyway, it can hinder the "heart" process. I get constricted (as I've blogged about before) with the knowledge that someone is going to READ this and undoubtedly tear it apart someday, with that darn internal editor who just won't go away.

I've discovered the only way to get past this, for me, is to completely immerse myself in the characters and the story and just write it down as fast as I can. Then I can go back and change it.

Deadlines motivate me a lot. I know over the summer, I gave myself a deadline of getting my novel edited and it helped keep me on track and take my mind of things (hubby was in the hospital with a staph infection). I missed my deadline by a few days, but I'm still very glad I made one in the first place.

moonrat said...

i think pressure is definitely helpful. i've actually joined a writing group because i'm hoping it will be what i need to work on the project that has been languishing since i took my job. it might also be a way to get out of said job before 7 pm one day a week.

Lisa said...

Yogamum, It's never too late! Yes, I really do feel lucky. I think it's even better than if he were another writer. We get to talk about creativity, but we're coming at it from two different places.

Sphinx, Thanks for stopping by and also, thank you for that original post you did with Tim Hallinan about book proposals and pantsers. Lots of great things followed that post for me.

Susan, I think that does happen to a much smaller degree when painters share works in progress. What I find that makes the two things completely different is the commitment to each project. Scott usually finishes 1-2 paintings per week. Working on a novel deprives us of the feeling of finishing and then when it is finished (the first "the end") there's the revision and then there's the unlikelihood of it seeing the light of day. Wow, this is nuts. What the hell am I doing??? ;)

Uncle Denis! I'm so glad you're back. Thanks for taking all the time to read my little experiment. I'm starting to feel a bigger obligation to finish all the time. I'm glad you think Scott was a good find. I'm pretty fond of him too ;)
Um -- the thing about being Aaron's beard probably came from the same place everything else does. Beats me. I guess it seemed like something I'd be worried about looking like if I really was hanging around a gay guy back in the pre - don't ask/don't tell days. Especially if people assumed we were involved. It would be weird, don't you think?

Melissa, I'd never heard that expression "write the first draft with your heart; write the second (etc.) with your head" before, but it's perfect. I give you a lot of credit for being able to comply with self-imposed deadlines. I think I need external pressure to give me the extra kick in the pants to not watch a movie, or surf the web when I should be writing. It's interesting that you mentioned the goal of publication as a hindrance to writing from the heart. I decided that for the DC thing, I'd take that out of the equation for now and just focus on the finishing thing. It has helped to keep me honest -- I don't know how wise it is though :)

Usman said...

How come I missed this excellent post. This is how; in one of my inspirations, that come and go, to work hard; I am actually doing some revising on my completed novel. That is one reason you haven't seen Ch4 of my DC novel. And I haven't been able to read much of anyone else's work.
As I revise everyday; It feels horrible, my writing. I hate my voice and my writing. That is the emotion for now. but I keep on revising.
The problem is perfectionism; I want to be a better writer. The next Steinbeck, Pamuk, Hemingway, name them.
Great post and I have been thinking on the same lines and that is what keeps me going. And yes those great literary masterpieces scare me, to the extent I have cut down on reading some of them.
Usman

Lisa said...

Usman,

I am totally with you. I think Ian McEwan was the writer that finally made me crack. I realized that I'll never write like he does, but then if I don't write and write and write, I'll never write the way I'm supposed to either. It's so hard to find our way...

If I allow myself to think about it, I wonder which writer someday I might be like and I honestly can't say. Probably none of them. What I have temporarily accepted though is that I won't ever even be the best writer I can be -- which may not ever be all that good -- if I don't keep chiseling away at those million words ;)

Glad you're working -- I recommend that you try to find a way to let go and tell yourself "it's not that important". I'll write the best book that I know how to today. As soon as I get self-conscious, I start to try to hard and when I try to hard, it seems to make it that much harder to write and the writing doesn't seem any better for it.

It's only a book...

Usman said...

It's only a book...

sure, if only I weren't writing it;)

Bernita said...

Doing is learning.
The solid kind.

Yellow said...

Lisa, will you please stop looking inside my head, then writing exactly what I need at the moment. Even though I'm drawing and painting a lot at the moment, I'm still shadowed by doubts and fears. The you come along (on your blog)and put your arm around my shoulder, and we walk and chat together for a while. Then I head off back to my own world with a skip in my step, houting 'thanks, Lisa' back to you over my shoulder.

Lana Gramlich said...

Charles & I probably have similar conversations to you & Scott, as he's the writer/teacher & I'm the artist. One difference between the two, also, is that one look at a book hardly reveals anything. There's still a story to be read. One look at a painting, however, reveals all there is. Love it or leave it.
I think I'm on the verge of leaving painting...again & forever. With well over 100 works under my belt, I have to wonder why I keep wasting my time & resources this way. Ah, well...

Lisa said...

Moonrat! I missed your comment earlier. I think a regular writing group is great for creating a deadline. I took two novel writing workshops before I started this challenge and they were a great motivator for me to get work ready for critiques and they were also a great way for me to learn how to critique and be a better editor -- lucky writing group that gets to have you as a member!

Usman, I know -- it's just it doesn't help to take it so seriously that it makes you miserable, right?

Bernita, Thank you. I think I know what you mean. A person who wants to write can spend huge amounts of time reading and talking about it, but not actually doing it. I think I'm getting past that finally :)

Yellow, I am so glad! That seems to happen to me when I'm feeling that way too. Just when I feel like I couldn't possibly write anything, I'll come across a blog post and I'll feel like the writer must have been tuning into my fears and insecurities. You are doing some great work -- keep going!

Oh Lana, please don't say that. Your work is beautiful and you are an artist or you would have given up a long time ago. I wonder what it is that has you so down on painting...I may have to email you. But please don't give up. You're much too talented.

steve said...

Lisa,

I just reread this post, and I'm glad I did. I guess I can't relate to the artist who strives to paint a mediocre painting. I'ts an interesting way of getting around perfectionism, but it wouldnt't work for me. I've been known to delete one of these comments and rework it after finding a spelling, grammatical, or punctuation error.

Anyway, I kind of stopped reading at that point, because I couldn't relate to it. But then you got to the Dickens Challenge section and deadlines, and that really speaks to me. And I hadn't seen Tim's articles on finishing a novel--I read the one about the "dreaded middle" and was impressed.

Personally, I'd say you do have a style. It may not be fully developed, but it's a style nonetheless. It's often a conversational style--it feels to me as if you were telling me the story across a coffee table. It works wonderfully. All of us Dickens Challengers could do with some revisions, but it's amazing what we've accomplished so far.

Lana Gramlich said...

Lisa; I appreciate the sentiment, but I had given up a long time ago & only got back into it again this past year. Paintings are stacking up rapidly in the spare room (because I'm out of wall space.) So why fill up the spare room with unused paintings, y'know?

SzélsőFa said...

Hello Lisa,

Steve (from the Slow Train) sent me. This is my first visit here. I liked this post. I have been writing short stories for the past couple of months in English - so I'm multiple challenged.
In 'real life' I'm a perfectionist, too and it does make writing pretty hard.
Sometimes I just write whatever comes into my head...sometimes I have this feeling I should not write at all...
Your post here was quite helpful. It encourages me to push myself towards writing. Or rather, NOT to resist the push towards writing.

(I have two English-language blogs, one is exclusively about the hardhips I encounter while writing; the other is various stuff: family, animals, poems, short stories.)

Josephine Damian said...

Lisa, I have to disagree with you husband (but I do LOVE his paintings).

Like you, I'm a literary reader, but I accept that my talent level, and therefore career goals, are not literary. I swing for the fences with every book, and my one and only goal - job - is to entertain the reader - whether it's a solidly crafted sentence, interesting character, pacing - it'a ALL about entertaining to me, and anything that doesn't entertain is unacceptable to me.

Lisa said...

Steve, I'm not sure which artist made the comment about striving to paint a mediocre painting, but I can understand the concept that if a person were to stare at a blank canvas and say "today, I create a masterpiece", it would paralyze most of us.

For writers, I think that everyone probably has his own psychological bag of tricks. For me, telling myself that I'm allowed to write crap or that a first draft allows me to cut myself a little slack doesn't eliminate my ultimate wish to write something fantastic. For me -- and I can only speak for myself -- setting deadlines and removing inhibitions helps to put that probably unrealistic wish or goal out of the front of my mind and somewhere else. The good news is, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of tricks, so what works for me isn't likely to work for everyone. And -- what works for me this month, may not work later.

And I appreciate that you think I have a developing style. It's one of those things that impossible to self-assess. I hope that continuing to work on the same piece over a long period of time will facilitate that development. Thanks for the thoughtful comment Steve.

Lana, It only makes me sad to think you'd stop if it's important to you.

Szelsofa, Welcome! I've seen your comments on Steve's blog and have always meant to visit. Today I did and I've linked to you. You have some great posts at your site. I have gone from the mindset of not pushing myself when the words don't come to writing through the difficulties. I don't think there is ever one answer that works for all people or even for me all the time, but it's helpful to read about the experiences of others. I'm very glad you came by.

Josephine, You can absolutely disagree -- there's definitely no right or wrong that applies to everyone.

I can understand and respect your approach. For me, I feel like I'm learning and experimenting. At some point, my goal is publication but I've learned that I need to set more incremental goals (finish a chapter, finish a first draft) and not look too far beyond the task at hand. I'm in the process of writing something now that I really doubt would have very broad appeal, which runs counter to the goal of publication -- but if, while I'm learning to find my voice and wrangle with structure, I let too much come into the picture, I will be paralyzed again. Sooner or later, I will have to determine what my style and my genre is and write or revise to that, but I'm still too early in the process to think about that. Thanks for commenting -- I'm always happy when I see your name because I feel tough love coming ;)

Sarah Ockler said...

Hi Lisa- your posts are always so thought-provoking. I have to agree with the million words thing. Sometimes I can write dozens of crappy pages just to get that one gem of a sentence - really, it's like mining. Yeah, it takes a lot of practice. Writing practice. I truly believe that just "showing up at the page" (I forget who coined the phrase) is 75% of it.

There's also a difference between writing and rewriting, which is where vague, overwritten, underwritten, poorly written etc. concepts become great. Or at least, good!

Good luck with the rest of your challenge, and your million words!

Sarah Ockler

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.


Virginia Woolf