Sunday, July 23, 2017

All writers are recidivists

Diary by Keith Waterhouse in the 13 May, 1995 Spectator.
There can be no one so smug as the writer who has just finished a book — par- ticularly if he has friends who are only in the middle of theirs, or, better (meaning worse), just about to start. Such is the happy position I find myself in. The relief is physical rather than mental — like stepping down off the treadmill or coming in out of the garden after a hard day's digging. And suddenly, in a gush, there is a great avalanche of time — time to have lunch with friends, time to pick pencils up off the floor, time to answer letters, time to water the dead pot plants, time, now that it's spring, to buy a new winter overcoat, time to read and browse in bookshops, time to watch afternoon television, time to empty the wastepaper baskets, time to look at the damp patch in the lavatory and judge whether it's getting worse (it is), time to pay the final notices, time to change the dead light bulb on the landing which expired on New Year's Eve, time to restock' the stapling machine, time to write that long-promised article for the British Jour- nalism Review (it's coming, it's coming — as soon as I've cleaned my tennis shoes!), time to straighten out the kink in the bedside rug, time to get the month-in, month-out Jacket and trousers dry-cleaned at last, time to tidy the slag-heap of a desk, time for a haircut, time, now, to have a bath upon ris- ing instead of bashing away at the typewrit- er in a muck sweat until five in the after- noon. And time to jangle one's change and look at the flowers. This euphoria, in my experience, lasts about four days, where- upon — having sworn to take the summer off — I find myself itching to get back to my desk, with the first sentence of the next damned thick book demanding to be set down on paper. No wonder there are too many books. All writers are recidivists.

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