Monday, October 4, 2010


There were pieces from Michael Cunningham's editorial in Sunday's NYTimes that I found deeply moving.  I'm not entirely sure how much of the article I completely agree with, but this passage alone made me want to stand up and hug him:

     Here's a secret.  Many novelists, if they are pressed and if they are being honest, will admit that the finished book is a rather rough translation of the book they'd intended to write.  It's one of the heartbreaks of writing fiction.  You have, for months or years, been walking around with the idea of a novel in your mind, and in your mind it's transcendent, it's brilliantly comic and howlingly tragic, it contains everything you know and everything you can imagine, about human life on the planet earth.  It is vast and mysterious and awe-inspiring.  It is a cathedral made of fire.
     But even if the book in question turns out farily well, it's never the book that you'd hoped to write.  It's smaller than the book you'd hoped to write.  It is an object, a collection of sentences, and it does not remotely resemble a cathedral made of fire.

I had a really nice time at the New Mexico Women's Book Festival yesterday.  Thanks to everyone who was there.  I'm still puzzled by the elegant-looking woman who asked why I seem different on this blog than I did behind the podium.  Hmmm. 

1 comment:

  1. I like this part of Michael's essay too. Read it to students in my "Modern Novel" class; we are now on "Invisible Cities". I do find it helpful to think of reading/writing as a continuum of translation. Which I am partaking in and that is enough. There is no perfect, no done, only moving on. Thank God.