Haste vs Waste

August 14, 2011

Michael Agger sounds like a great guy. But in analyzing the question of how fast writers can/should/must write, he really needs to consider taking his time. Not only his own stuff but some of what he cites could use a little more thinking-through. For example, while he carefully gives a link to one of Christopher Hitchens’s daily feats of productivity, when he comes to Trollope (than whose creative process there is probably no more exhaustively detailed account in existence, thanks to his own writerly tell-all autobiography), he can do no better than quote the late William F. Buckley Jr. (whom he pictures writing in a cab, when the man gave us, in his own autobiographical writings, excruciating details about his requirements to have an available custom-built limousine).

But worse comes with an authority he cites: one who contrasts two creative styles, one supposedly belonging to Beethoven, who is characterized by going immediately to paper to “outline” a composition). This when the basic principle of Beethoven’s way of being is the extensive sketch books in which, for months or years, he would experiment with the basic thematic building-blocks of a future composition before beginning to confect it.

Why do I cite an article as though only to criticize it? Because the subject is of interest, and Mr. Aggers thinking is, too. He might tarry for the facts a bit longer next time, though.

But then there is that deadline.

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