I’ve set myself a little challenge this week – to find five quotations about writing. Not just any quote, but ones that I love. And then because finding isn’t enough, I will post the quote each day. This first quotation speaks to how it feels (to me) to work on a big text, whether it’s a thesis or a book.
I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. During visiting hours, I enter its room with dread and sympathy for its many disorders. I hold its hand and hope it will get better.
This tender relationship can change in a twinkling. If you skip a visit or two, a work in progress will turn on you.
A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You much visit it everyday and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, “Simba!”
Annie Dillard (1990) The Writing Life. New York: Harper Perennial p 52.
Perhaps this is the end point.
Thanks. This describes *exactly* what is happening today.
Ah, that explains it! 😀
I too dread that re-encounter with the slumbering beast, and hope that this poignant imagery will help to ensure that I do not leave it to fester ever again. A pointless hope, for sure. But at least now I have a better idea of why the determination to get back to work is accompanied with such trepidation, and can prepare myself, by arming myself with the appropriate weaponry!
Thanks heaps for sharing.
I certainly relate to that. I was in Bangkok last week so left the lion at home. But now I’m struggling with the question how to re-engage! It is tempting to just walk away but ….
My present state of mind…I’m escaping into knitting but must beard the lion this week.
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Wonderful metaphor. Many thanks!