The Way Melville Had
By henrymartinhm, Apr 21 2015 02:34PM
I started reading Chad Harbach's 'The Art of Fielding' a few weeks ago. There is a passage in the book where a character's thought process on writing goes as below. I think it's an excellent passage that describes the challenges in composition, and in choosing to be a writer from the exhaustion of dedication, to the lack of self knowledge that the below paragraph hints at. I'm sure not I'm not the only one to identify with these...
"It was easy enough to write a sentence, but if you were going to create a work of art, the way Melville had, each sentence needed to fit perfectly with the one that preceded it, and the unwritten one that would follow. And each of those sentences needed to square with the ones on either side, so that three became five and five became seven, seven became nine and whichever sentence he was writing became the slender fulcrum on which the whole precarious edifice depended. The sentence could contain anything, anything, and so it promised the kind of absolute freedom that, to Affenlight's mind, belonged to the artist and the artist alone. And yet that sentence was also beholden to the book's very first one, and its last unwritten one, and every sentence inbetween. Every phrase, every word, exhausted him. He thought maybe the problem was the noise of the city, and his dull day job, and his drinking; he gave up his room and rented an outbuilding on an Iowa farm run by hippies. There, alone with his anxious thoughts, he felt much worse"