Wednesday, November 23, 2005


a George Orwell quotation from Terry Teachout (I love, love, love Orwell, that voice in the essays is ridiculously perfect, but clearly I have some stronger identification as well):

It is now 16 years since my first book was published, & abt 21 years since I started publishing articles in the magazines. Throughout that time there has literally been not one day in which I did not feel that I was idling, that I was behind with the current job, & that my total output was miserably small. Even at the periods when I was working 10 hours a day on a book, or turning out 4 or 5 articles a week, I have never been able to get away from this neurotic feeling, that I was wasting time. I can never get any sense of achievement out of the work that is actually in progress, because it always goes slower than I intend, & in any case I feel that a book or even an article does not exist until it is finished. But as soon as a book is finished, I begin, actually from the next day, worrying that the next one is not begun, & am haunted with the fear that there will never be a next one—that my impulse is exhausted for good & all. If I look back & count up the actual amount that I have written, then I see that my output has been respectable: but this does not reassure me, because it simply gives me the feeling that I once had an industriousness & a fertility which I have now lost.


  1. Ah, the man knows it.

    Bit depressing though, knowing that not even Orwell got satisfaction from his published works. What hope is there?

  2. I have this article on the blog today. Unfortunately writers are not always fulfilled by their output or fame. smc


    Melville's professional career never recovered from Moby-Dick, and nor did his private life. The masterpiece that would chart fresh seas for American literature to sail long after its author's death was also a punishing voyage of self-discovery. Melville said its unfathomable cravings drank his blood. Harsh, angry, Ahab-like aspects of his character oppressed his family. His four children were too young to remember a time before Moby-Dick devoured their father, sucking out of him the creativity that would recur only fitfully, and at increasing intervals, in the course of the next 40 years.