Monday, July 02, 2007

Roots of writer's block

"Of course, had I been trying for a debilitating case of writers' block, the conditions above Louie the Greek's couldn't have been better—hot, loud, the walls vibrating with every train pulling into and out of the station, the air vibrating with the aroma of pickles, bacon fat, fried potatoes and cheese. But I wouldn't have fared any better at a secluded writer's colony in the woods, because I was the ideal candidate for writer's block. All the classic defects converged in me—inexperience, impatience, perfectionism, confusion, fear. Above all I suffered from a naive view that writing should be easy. I thought words were supposed to come unbidden. The idea that errors were steppingstones to truth never once occurred to me, because I'd absorbed the ethos of the Times, that errors were nasty little things to be avoided, and misapplied that ethos to the novel I was attempting. When I wrote something wrong I always took it to mean that something was wrong with me, and when something was wrong with me I lost my nerve, my focus, and my will."

— from J.R. Moehringer's memoir, "The Tender Bar"

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