Thursday, April 10, 2014


Writing is a combination of intangible creative
fantasy and appallingly hard work.
Anthony Powell

Most mornings include Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" where today I learn that it was on April 10, 1925, that F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was published. I am amused and encouraged to learn that even after finally sending his masterpiece off to Scribner's to be published, he wanted to change the title, but Maxwell Perkins told him it was too late, so The Great Gatsby it remained. Later, when sales were poor, he believed it was the title that was to blame.

I cannot think of anything I have written that came perfectly gift wrapped from the muse. Even when there is a rare flash of inspiration that flows quickly onto the page, there are edits and re-edits, doubts about word choice, questions about structure, metaphors that need to be unmixed. Right now I would go back and fix the earlier flash/flow problem, but I'm leaving it in just to illustrate the point. So I am encouraged that even the great Fitzgerald was never totally satisfied. 

When the metaphors mesh, and the rhythm moves with the meaning, and the images illustrate exactly, there is joy in the creation, but nearly always there is a niggling doubt that it could be better, so we revise and re-envision, and finally, either when we can see nothing else to "fix" or when we can't stand looking at it any more, we call it "finished," but it's never quite finished, even if it's gone to press.

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