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.