Thursday, September 27, 2012

What a sad, sad tale …

… John Ferrar Holms – The least productive writer in the English language — The Dabbler.

… John Ferrar Holms – The least productive writer in the English language (part 2).

These accounts are perhaps clear enough but carry a hint of something still more perverse: the way in which, for certain writers, failing or refusing to write can become an assertion of superiority. If Holms didn’t think most people were worth talking to, why should he debauch his “extraordinary mental capacity” in attempting to write for them? Perhaps above all else, Holms feared seeming pedestrian (Muir: “he could scuttle along on all fours at great speed without bending his knees; walking, on the other hand, bored him”). In a barmy sort of way, not writing can seem like a means of holding on to the purity and grandeur of one’s original ideals as an author. There’s a feeling that most writers get at times, that the stuff you manage to get down on paper falls terribly short of the shining work glimpsed in your imagination – so far short as to be almost a kind of betrayal. If you are not careful, a too-exalted sense of the things you would like to write, or ought to write, can cast a killing shadow on the things you are at all likely to write.

See also: Edwin Muir andChildhood, near and far.

Muir's autobiography is indeed marvelous, as is his poetry.

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