the mileposts slip past the headlights, the numbers too quick to discern
Not apocalyptic thoughts. More like hurricane-shelter thoughts. Did I buy enough plywood?
I've had two weeks off from the book in order to do research and schoolwork. Writing the papers is the real problem here; I could read Seven Types of Ambiguity by day and write fiction by night until the cows come home, but can't mix it up with other kinds of verbal output very well. It isn't just the word count I need to turn out, although that's part of itthey are fundamentally different kinds of thought, and it's all too easy to see how, given enough time to metastasize, the analytic might strangle the creative. (I don't like that word much, "creative," it's so New Age. I'd rather call it something pretentious like "poesis," but the adjective "poetic" is too narrow. Anyway.) You don't even have to ascribe much mystery to the creative process. Put simply: when Nabokov was writing Lolita, he was not thinking of the same things as people who write papers on Lolita, and if he had been thinking of those things, he never would have finished it. Or mourned, mocked Coleridge and his tomes of translated German theory:
And haply by abstruse research to steal
From my own nature all the natural man
This was my sole resource, my only plan:
Till that which suits a part infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.
I know you could name me a dozen novelist/critics who didn't end up in sanatoriums; but honestly, most of them were bad critics or bad novelists or both. It's a move between freshwater and saltwater.
But there are fish that can do it. I must be a brave anadromous fish. That "must" isn't hyperbole, eitherthe truth is that I'm not good enough at criticism to make a career out of it alone, and if I am to continue at all in this field it will have to be on the strength of this weird dual skill set, this possibly incompatible skill set.
Long odds. I've been playing roulette on credit for years now. If this book fails, I don't think there will be another one.