Jane Recommends “What Took You So Long?” via SLATE

An excerpt from What Took You So Long? The quiet hell of 10 years of novel writing. by Susanna Daniel:

The thing is—one-day-at-a-time is the most painful way for active non-accomplishment to happen. It’s the psychological equivalent of death by a thousand cuts. A painter I knew told me once that she’d reached a point when she said goodbye to painting, much the same way Junot Díaz considered doing—she said it was the kindest, most generous thing she’d ever done for herself.

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Jane says: I found this article when I truly needed it: wallowing in the ugly depths of a writerly “pit of despair.” My former colleagues and forever friends are publishing, publishing, publishing, while I rust at a day job and toil away at my novel, wondering if I will ever finish.

Actively working on the slow story since 2008, I have taken a sanity break here, a sanity break there, and worked on another project for eighteen months. Nevertheless, this novel has always squatted in the forefront of my mind. Yes, Susanna Daniel, I “wake in the night, [my heart] racing, unable to feel anything but the fear and frustration and disappointment of the fact that [I] haven’t finished anything in a month.”

Knowing that others are laboring in the same painful way helps. And you’re right, writing is “not nearly as hard … as not writing.” Dear writers, what keeps you returning to the desk?

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