Shaun Levin

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Some Writers

In Writing, Writing Exercises on September 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm

Some writers write at home. Some writers write in hotel rooms. Maya Angelou had a regular hotel room in which she wrote. Hotel rooms are good places to write. Some writers write in cafés. At some point you realise what type of writer you are, what your writing routine looks like, when and where you write best. Some writers are stricter than others. Do the most important thing first, is what some writers say. Do the writing first. Some writers start the day with admin. Some writers start the day with a run, or a walk around the block, or push ups. Some writers do push ups in their pauses. Some writers procrastinate. I’m not sure that’s a legitimate way of being a writer, but if things eventually get done then maybe it is. Some writers work on one thing. Some writers always have more than one thing on the go. Some writers feel bad about procrastinating. Some writers beat themselves up. Some writers give themselves license to do whatever they want as long as they get things done. Some writers like sunshine and some like the early hours of the morning. The wee hours. The owl hours. Some writers are night owls. Some writers wake up at 3. For some it’s a pm 3 for others it’s when others are going to bed. Some writers run a lot, like 10k a day. Some writers need a view and others need a wall. Some need silence. I know a writer who needs a lot of silence. I know a writer who gave up, said they were done, that they were tired, that life was too short. Some writers just keep going because what else is there to do. Some writers like to talk about their writing. Others wouldn’t dare. What you working on? Oh, you know. Some writers will tell you everything. Some writers will tell you nothing. Some writers walk, and others stare at the ceiling. Often these are one and the same writer. Some writers are competitive, always keeping an eye on what others are doing. Other writers, to be honest, don’t really care about things like that. They’re just happy to be writing. That’s what they tell themselves. I know writers like that. I know them intimately. Others used to be competitive or became more competitive with age. Writing is not a competition. Some writers like all-consuming projects. Some writers write in short burst, little stories that resonate. Some writers plan. Some writers love the company of other writers, others like the company of other artists, all sorts of artists as long as they’re not writers. Some artists don’t get writers. Some artists look down on writers, think that what they (we) do is easy. Some writers know that writing is the hardest art, that there is no art form more difficult than writing, that writing is the only visual art where you have to rely on words, on one colour on an off-white background. Some writers don’t know that writing is a visual art. Some writers are frustrated visual artists or dancers or something that is not writing but when they write they embody the painter or the ballet dancer or the acrobat that they dream of being. Some writers write as a second choice. Some writers don’t know what they’d do without writing. Some writers think that writing is a curse, their cross to bear, and they love it and they hate it and it causes them so much pain and so much joy that they’re not quite sure sometimes how they feel about it. Some writers sleep well at night and some have insomnia. I know many writers who have insomnia. Some writers are anxious people. All writers are anxious people. It is not possible to be a chilled-out writer. Some writers think that writing is a way to alleviate anxiety. Some writers rely on writing to make a noise after many years of feeling silenced, a whole childhood of feeling silenced, or being silenced, because some people should be seen and not heard or not seen at all, and some writers have gone through things that if it wasn’t for writing might have drowned in that thing or the consequences of that thing. For some writers writing is fun. I love writing. It makes me so happy when I write. Is a complicated statement. Because it’s true. Some writers wish they could be writing all the time, that wouldn’t life be great if all we did was write, which goes back to that hotel room where all you have to do is write and sleep and lie in the bath and can you bring me a burger and I’ll have the continental breakfast today and yes I’m ready for my mid-morning coffee and can I have a slice of that carrot cake you had last week. Okay, no problem, the chocolate cake is good, too. Some writers are not fussy. Some writers are fussy. Some writers have a talisman, a ritual, a candle to light, background music to play, a desk, a pen, a type of paper. Some writers don’t write on paper. Some writers type. Some writers work straight onto the computer. Some writers would not be able to write without a notebook. I know a writer who does everything first in the notebook. Some writers work. Some writers plan. Some writers go into it not knowing where they’ll land up. Some writers know where they’ll land up but they love it anyway. Some writers love the process. Some writers are in it for the ride. Some writers don’t like the end and arriving at their destination because really what it means is that a whole new journey will begin and they must now get to the end of this one and stop.

Exercise: Write until you find a good anchor phrase, something that can be repeated at the beginning of each sentence, then keep using it, over and over, until you run out of steam. (See also: “On the Importance of Having Unread Books on Your Bookshelf.”)



In Writing on September 6, 2020 at 10:55 am

I imagine the larva or the pupa or whatever it’s called that’s there in the cocoon. I imagine it getting flashes of what it will be, how it will emerge, but then the image disappears and it keeps nibbling away, pushing against the screen of the cocoon, the boundaries that will eventually give way, and the larva glimpses – so quick, a flash! – a world without limitations, but the limitations are the story taking shape, the constraints of a story not yet known or known but the shape not quite there, the story in its entirety not quite there. I feel the physicality of it, the details, I have some of the details, but as I sit in it, this cocoon of a first draft where there are things to nibble on and feed off and also the promise of what lies beyond, like the larva knowing in its DNA that there is something beyond, something meant-to-be that it’s been working towards.

So what if it’s not the precise metaphor but it’s the right one for now just let yourself live in this metaphor the cocoon of this metaphor and keep your eyes on the keys and stop looking up and just feel the cocoon of the first draft around you and yes, you just got a flash glimpse of what the story could be, what it could expand into, and the beauty that would be there like a fancy dress to fit itself into because the larva is the larva but is also the butterfly and the first draft is the first draft but also the final story. The final story is inherent in the first draft, the beginning of the larva shuffling about starting to nibble its way out into the spectacularity of colour and flight.

The larva trusts. The larva doesn’t give up midway, never looking back at its life as a caterpillar. Is the caterpillar the first draft? Ugh, don’t get entangled in the metaphor. Stay with the cocoon. Stay with the story and what it will be from now on, not what it was not where it’s been, stay with the story as it is now, what came before doesn’t matter, what it took to get here doesn’t matter, what matters is the cocoon of this first draft and the larva/pupa of it, the cocoon is the veil between the first draft and the story as it will be in its colour and flight.

The story is about a spine and a path and the thing that runs through our lives, my life, his life, your life, all of them being aspects of the me in the story but me as I was 40 years ago, 30, 20. Maybe that’s the story: versions of a character over time, and the search for things that stay with us, not necessarily the things inside, the who-we-are things, but the things we do (but they, too, are who we are), that we dedicate ourselves to or that have the allure or the whatever that keeps us doing them. Like running. In my case running. It’s about running away and about movement and doing and the illusion of doing and about a legitiate reason to move in the world alone although times when I’ve run with someone, a friend, a lover, a relative, have been wonderful and a different type of running, and running in a group very briefly in London when two of the personal trainers at the gym set up a running group and we’d all go for a run in Finsbury Park or Clissold Park. I’m not a pack animal, but maybe running is a way of calling out for a pack. What of the butterfly? How does the butterfly feel about the herd instinct? A herd of butterflies.*

That’s the joy of turning up for a story, the way it keeps offering more and it’s up to us to enjoy the moment of a story, this moment of it trying to take shape, rubbing against the walls of the cocoon because it has just had a glimpse – flash! – of what lies beyond, the blue skies, the air, the smell of spring or the expanse of its wings, that’s what it is, too, the unfolding, the movement from a first draft onwards is a process of unfolding, of opening out, of oxygen, of breath and breadth, letting the story take up the space it has been created to assume.

* apparently, a flight of butterflies, or a rabble of butterflies, or a flutter of them.


In Writing on September 5, 2020 at 8:43 am

For instance, you might be a writer with much time on your hands, able to dedicate a significant chunk of your mornings, afternoons and evenings to writing, but if an idea comes to you at 11am or 3pm and you don’t have a notebook with you, the idea is likely to evaporate. Having a notebook available at all times is an invitation to use it, a confirmation that writing is integral to life. Sometimes it’s nice to stop at random moments and record what’s going on. To sketch.

Last week I went out for lunch and forgot to take my notebook with me. I hadn’t been out to eat since March. The closest I’ve come to a café in the last five months is the occasional delivery from my favourite pastry shop. This pandemic has reduced the number of opportunities available to a writer to stop and stare. Never mind stare, stopping is a dangerous activity. To linger on a park bench is to invite who knows what into one’s respiratory system. Not that some of us (me) don’t run through ambling crowds and workout in local parks without any barrier between our insides and the outer world.

Anyway. So I went out for lunch. It was delicious, but without my notebook, I had to rely on the paper place-mat, a large sheet of white paper with the café’s logo and a list of select items from the menu (if only I could find that paper place-mat now, I’d tell you what was there. There was definitely arroz negro, which is what I had for my first course, and then some beef stew with chips for my main, and a chocolate tart for dessert. All delicious and because delicious writing was facilitated and I wrote about the story I’m working on, a story about running, runs in different parts of the world and possible ways I could structure the piece. It was like being a bit messy, writing there on the mesa, on a place-mate, on the table, eating and breaking off bits of bread – go easy on the bread – and sipping from the bottle of water included in the menú del día, all for only €11 so that everything conspired to feel like a gift, an invitation to create, to ease the appearance of words on a page, so it didn’t really matter that I didn’t have a notebook, though I did have a pen, and there was the paper place-mat waiting to be written on and I accepted the invitation, ate my food with gusto, felt the openness of the world and the expansiveness of it, how accommodating you can be sometimes, world, how well you make what we need available, even and especially when we don’t have our regular tools with us to make writing happen, you’re there to provide us with what we need. Our father who, etc.)

So I was saying.

The Furtiveness of Writers, II

In Writing, Writing Workshops on September 4, 2020 at 8:09 pm

When I speak of mess I mean unshaped writing. We all flounder in the early stages of a story, in the first draft, the second, the third, sketching, searching, making spelling mistakes, mixing up tenses, writing things that will disappear – poof! a few back spaces and you’re gone! And how necessary that is. It is necessary. To stumble, flounder, not worry about good-or-bad.

There is great power in early drafts, in the words composed at the beginning of a story, the beginning of an exploration. To share them takes courage. It’s a risk. Early drafts are evidence of our floundering, our confusion, our uninhibited mind. I see this magic in workshops, one of the rare places where writers share beginnings of things, words not overshaped, words from a place beyond thinking, raw words. I think that’s what happens when you write in company, that’s the gift of it. You learn to love those early drafts, those fumblings for story, for direction. I think it’s also a place where we can learn the power of writing without overthinking, a glimpse into a way of writing that can be done, too, when we are away from the shared writing table.

Attending workshops taught me how to let go into writing, not overthink. The sense of containment, the sense of an audience is part of it. Participating in workshops changed the way I write, courses near a river in North Wales, a workshop in the middle of a sheep field in Devon, week-long courses in Yorkshire just outside Hebden Bridge, a course at this community college, that one, impacted on the course of my writing, the way I write and what I choose to write about. In the company of other writers I learn to write.

By the company of writers I mean dead ones, too, by which I mean books. What I’m trying to say is that we could learn more about writing and about how to write, not how to plot and write a best seller, but really how to write a sentence. I want to see Chekhov struggling with a sentence, I want to see what a sentence by Kafka looked like before it was ready for publication.

Some of this has to do with the clandestine nature of writing, the secrecy, the, maybe not furtiveness, but the privacy of it. Nobody looks over the should of a writer as they refine a sentence, and my god there are so many sentences in a story, not the way someone might look over the shoulder of an artist, I mean look at the size of that canvas, Hockney, it’s beckoning others to look over a shoulder, but the writer, there with their little notebook and its scrunched together words and lines giving off the message: keep out.

Show us how you do what you do, writers, even if it means being the one to look over your own shoulder to tell us what you see.

Connected or not, I like what Lydia Davis says about Kafka: “…the way his fictions grew organically out of his daily life.”

from Kafka’s The Trial (image: The Kafka Project)

The Furtiveness of Writers

In Writing on September 3, 2020 at 9:18 am

Writers are the most secretive of artists. Writers, on the whole, do not think of themselves as artists. For writers, mess is an embarrassment, a thing to hide. I mean, what kind of writer shows their first draft, or their second, or third? When writers talk to the world – this is how to write a best seller, this is how to write a novel – they talk as if a story is a thing to plan and shape before it is written. Writers, on the whole, speak neither of magic nor of mess. And even when they do, they’re unlikely to show their own.

Imagine a painter not speaking of mess. We expect mess from a painter – an artist! – and we like that mess. On the other hand, writers do not consider the mess of their process a thing worth showing. Granted, the mess of writers is easier to hide than the mess of painters. A few back spaces, tap tap tap, the delete key, and it’s gone, all changed.

For a long time I liked her very much and then less and less. Cold, cerebral, Northern, yet her stories lingered as examples of another thing you could do if you did what pleased you on the canvas of the page. Erudite, funny, playful, serious, playfully serious, someone else said when talking about his own approach to writing. I didn’t think about her much for several years, especially since moving back to the South, the heat, but then a few months ago when the world was sent to its room to consider the error of its ways – bad humans! – she became for a while the perfect company as I stumbled my way back out towards the threshold between silence and telling.

What a joy to discover recently in her book of essays called Essays several instances in which she reveals – elegantly, mind you, not messily at all, for she is not the type of writer to be messy – the messiness of a story’s progress. What she says about the role of the notebook in the essay “Revising One Sentence” is relevant to making transparent the drafts of a story: “A writer’s notebook becomes a record, or the objectification of a mind.”

Also from that essay: “It is nice to feel that there is too much to work on rather than nothing at all…” To be continued…

What’s the Imagination?

In Writing on September 2, 2020 at 9:45 am

How do you keep a short story short so that it doesn’t run away with itself? How do you stay focused without being too lean? So I’ve started working on a short story and I want to finish it in the next two months. I want it to be a story that takes – working-on-it-wise – about 10 weeks to create. Think of it as an assignment. Think of it as a thing that needs to get done. Some stories take years to get done. I’m not sure they need years, but sometimes that’s what they take. Some come out fully formed. Some stories – and I think this is the main point – know where they’re going and what they want to be. Some stories know what they’re about.

The aim is to forget you’re writing the story and to surrender to it. I’ve always liked the swimming metaphor, that feeling of moving forward, eh, swimmingly. By which I mean a kind of grace and even if not grace – a sense of moving forward with all the limbs moving. When a story is going well it’s like you’re in water, surrounded by something. I know that sounds a bit womb-like and maybe that’s what it’s like to be in a story and moving forward, that kind of effortlessness. Not feeling like a construction worker, a builder. Or maybe the pleasure comes from being a bit of both at different stages of the process.

The story I’m starting takes on a lot. It’s a story about running, with a focus on my first run in three places: Israel, England, and Spain, or more specifically: Ashkelon, Lyme Regis, Madrid. There are references to clothes and movies and other characters in each section. As I write this, I’m thinking: Maybe there’s a way to make it more fluid, to have the three runs merge into each other, create a sense of a single run, because that’s what we want from a good run: fluidity, flow, everything happening effortlessly, swimmingly.

The story starts with a downhill run. In this section I’m running down to the sea. It’s 1980 or 81 and I’m in England for the first time. I’m in my last year of high school and I’m on a trip to England. I like that point of view, the description as if recounting the details of a film or photograph. Also: making the writing process or the description process transparent.

Everything we write is from memory. Our imagination is a storehouse of memory. The present is a millisecond that becomes memory. That’s what our storybank is made of. Not storybank, maybe warehouse, maybe sea, maybe world. What is the imagination? (note to self: research Imagination.* What is it? Like, what’s it made of? Is it a specific part of our brain? Is it a thing?) Where are our stories drawn from?

* quick Wikipedia search in the 21st minute says about the imagination: “The common use of the term is for the process of forming new images in the mind that have not been previously experienced with the help of what has been seen, heard, or felt before, or at least only partially or in different combinations.”

A Single Written Sentence

In Writing, Writing Exercises, Writing Workshops on September 1, 2020 at 3:54 pm

It may come as a shock how little time you need to write a book. A story is loyal to those who turn up to write it, and that loyalty grows with the regularity with which one turns up.

(Even though I set the timer and I told myself I’d write for 20 minutes, along came a distraction, and to be honest I can’t remember what the distraction was, maybe it was the delivery guy with the books, but that was 8 hours ago and so much has happened since then, so many distractions, so many nice things, the regular day to day things that fill our hours, like spending time – online, on Whereby – with a friend and doing what we call office time or water-cooler time, in other words, we work in our separate living rooms/studios/bedrooms and there’s accountability. Things get done. Not those initial 20 minutes, though, the ones I started 8 hours ago, so here I am at the other end of the day, starting over.)

It may come as a surprise how little time is needed to write a book. An hour a day is a generous amount, and done daily, seven days a week, as Walter Mosley suggests – no days off – you’ll have a book by the end of the year.

Try it. Set the timer and write for 5 minutes. Whatever comes to mind, even if it’s just to repeat what can I write what can I write I need something to say I want something to say and something will come I promise you that.

In 5 minutes (this is a recent discovery) I usually write approximately 150 words, even with slight pauses here and there, which would mean that in 20 minutes I could do 600 words, which means that in 1 hour I can write almost 2,000 words. 2,000 words over 30 days = 60,000 words, which is a first draft of considerable dimensions. Write for 5 minutes just to see what happens, to get a sense of what you can do in that time. I don’t believe in the importance of word counting, but I do think it’s helpful to know what you can do in a given amount of time. Why? To dispel the myth of the inordinate amount of time needed to write a book. More than the word count, the turning up, the making time is what matters.

Whenever I make time, I have something to show for it, even if it’s just a sentence. A single written sentence is a lot more than an unwritten novel. I’m not sure what that statement actually means, whether it’s of any use to myself or others, but I sense there’s a truth in it.

I want to say something about time spent in good company. Writing with others is my favourite way to write. Writing is lonely, having to be both the writer and the audience is a challenge. Often the project itself is all the company you need, and when that happens it’s a kind of miracle. Writing in a café or art gallery is often all the company I need. But writing with a friend on a park bench or at the kitchen table is my favourite way to write.

Tomorrow’s plan: Writing with friends.

The Writer Must Love

In Writing on August 31, 2020 at 8:56 am

The writer must love writing. To really and truly love the act of it, the putting of pen to paper, the making of words, typing or hand-writing. The writer must love books, maybe above all the writer must love books, these things that hold the words the writer creates, the stories, anywhere between the length of a short paragraph or 600 pages. The writer must love their own company as they write, the writer must love words, words and books and their own company as they write. The writer who loves writing forgets themselves for those minutes or hours of writing and all there is is writing. That is what love looks like. The writer must enjoy what they do and what they’re capable of doing on the page. The writer must delight in the acrobatics of their own mind. The writer must be able to make themselves laugh and cry and pause in wonder at what has suddenly appeared on the page. Those words! The writer must love them and be grateful for them for there are moments when you write, when we write that there is not just us, but some kind of apparition from the wonder of our body and our mind and our gut.

The writer must love their own writing. Maybe not every minute of the day, maybe not most of the minutes of the day, maybe for only a few minutes a day, but the writer must get a glimpse of the wonder of what they do. So wonderful to themselves. Oh, it’s nice to see your name in print and to hold a book with your name on the cover, and it’s nice to be invited to read for an audience and be asked questions about things we have written, but if that is all the writer is writing for, then they will soon be found out. The writer must write without ego. I’m not entirely sure what the ego is (note to self: research ego) but if the writer can write for the exhilaration of writing and/or the comfort of writing and/or the surprise of writing and/or the joy of writing, then the writer is writing for the right reasons.

The writer must love writing more than they love being a writer. To write is to be nothing. To write, like painting, like drawing, dancing, singing is to be nothing and yet to have glimpses of the wonder of that nothingness. To be the thing itself, the words created, the movement of pen on paper, fine, okay, fingers on keyboard, because – full disclosure – these 20 minutes are being written on a desktop in the morning, second coffee done, enjoying the morning, enjoying taking these 20 minutes as I sit at my desk with one leg on the table, my earplugs in, the mind gently blocking out everything else on my screen (quick, go to Enter Full Screen. That’s better.)… The writer must love… The writer must… What I really want to say is:

The writer must love words and what words can do.

The writer must make time to write. There is always time. I know people who get up at 5 in the morning so they can write before their kids wake up. How do they do it? I don’t know. But they do. I admire anyone who can write for those 20 or 30 minutes that their child is asleep mid-morning. I have so much time in which I don’t write. The writer must see the time in which they don’t write as necessary, too, for writing. The writer must love writing enough to turn up every day, even if for 20 minutes. The writer must find time for the thing they love, which is writing. The writer need not be full of love for the world in order to love writing. The writer need not be glamorous or reclusive or shy. The writer must have at some point in their life a glimpse into the transformative and uplifting (find a better word) power of stories, putting words on the page, and the sensation of holding a book with the fingertips of both hands.


In Writing on August 30, 2020 at 4:28 pm

The hardest thing you will ever have to do as a writer is focus (he says you, but really what he means is I), to stick with it, to turn up. There are infinite distractions, but the biggest is the resistance to turning up, staring into space, sitting on the sofa and scrolling through Facebook, for example, Instagram, for example, Twitter. All the things one can scroll though, speeding up time, procrastinating, and there is the scrolling through things you should be doing, to go or not to go for a run, a walk, a swim, to the gym, for a massage, maybe it’s time for a massage, or a café, wash the dishes, the dishes can wait, everything can wait.

Really, there is nothing more wonderful than showing up, focusing, turning up on the page, no matter what happens, no matter what you land up with, for to make words is to make noise, or more precisely, to not not-make words. The aim is to not not-make words, because that is silence and the aim is to not be silent. To write is to not-be-silent and even if we are silent in the world, to be not-silent on the page somehow alleviates the anxiety of not being not-silent in the world. The more you put on the page, the less there is to carry. See: All that in less than 7 minutes.

Just think what might happen in 20.

Don’t stress me out.

Every time you focus, you add to your body of work. Every time you focus on one thing, you make it easier to focus on another, you write your way into being a writer. It’s that simple. A page + your fingers + a pen ( = a pencil) + time + a chair. That’s what writing =s

The shift from not doing to doing. Remember that (he tells himself): writing happens when you shift from not doing to doing.

Why the resistance? There’s so much to do. It’s far. I don’t want to set out because I’ll never reach the end. It’s deep. I might drown. It’s lonely. But think how much more lonely you’ll be without it. Writing is good company. Writing says: I’ll always be here. Writing says: I’ll always have something to say. Writing says: I’ll be interesting, I promise, and when I’m not, the more you talk to me, the more interesting I’ll become. I promise. Writing says: Stick with me. Writing says: I’ll be worth it.

Don’t count the minutes or the words. Follow the line. Follow the sentence and the acrobatics of your imagination. I mean, look at some of the cool things you’ve done in the last few minutes. Keep somersaulting, doing cartwheels and back flips. Flic-flacs we used to call them. Remember that first flic-flac. And yesterday, that kid when you were crossing the road, going from Plaza de Toros onto Calle de Alcalá and him and his friend crossing towards you and he just bounced up into the air and did a somersault, his friend watching from behind, and you could feel your eyebrows lift, your eyes opening wider, and wasn’t that magic to witness that: a kid propelling himself up into the air and doing a somersault, landing and continuing to cross the zebra crossing on a Saturday afternoon.

The bullring is closed now and in the evenings you’ve been walking around it while listening to music on your ear pods. So much is closed now, not just for the summer holidays, but because of the pandemic, and too many places have fallen silent, too many people. In the face of all that, keep turning up. Focus.

Almost There: Joy and Fear

In Writing on February 27, 2018 at 3:32 pm

There’s a book I’ve almost finished but I’m doing everthing I can to avoid it. The manuscript is on my desk. I know exactly what I need to do. The ending needs to be written. It’s a happy ending after a lot of turmoil and loss and violence. Something good happens at the end and I know exactly what it is, and most of it is written already. If I sit down, it’ll be done in 3-4 hours. It really will. All I need to do is sit there with the mansucript and with my keyboard and go paragraph by paragraph and write down the story as it happens.

I know what happens.

Is it fear? The fear of the completed project. The fear of having to put the book out into the world. The fear of saying okay this is what I’ve been working on for the past 2, 3, 6 years, do you like it? But those feel like the cliched answers. It’s not fear. It’s something else. It’s the power of fiction, I think. The overwhelmeing rush you get when you create a scene that is completely fiction, a creation of your mind, a fantasy you have of love and joy and meeting The One. At the end of the book he meets The One. The story feels so real, the happiness is so real, and I guess because it’s at the end of the book there’s no room for negativity to snake its way in.

Maybe the fear is joy. It’s not fear, it’s joy. Me and joy. We have a complicated relaionship. I have always resisted the endings of projects. When I was part of a professional supervision group, they bribed me with chocolate cake as an incentive to finish my first book. They didn’t actually bribe me, I made them promise to buy me the cake if I finished the book. Now I’ve bought myself a sofa, so I owe it to whoever – me! – to finish the book. The sofa must be earned. The sofa is a gift for finishing the book.

It’s not joy, either. Not fear, not fear of joy. What do you do with a book that is done? You look after it. You find it a home, you do your best to make sure people like it, you find people to like it, you show it to people, you say nice things about it, big it up, feel proud of it, keep your doubts to yourself, make sure it gets the best care possible. If you finish a book, your capacity for support is tested. How well do you care for your books? Some people care for their books very well. Some people will do anything for their books. Some people are embarrassed by/for people who’ll do anything for their books.

The truth is that I’m not sure why I’ll do anything to avoid finishing the book. How about I shut up now and go finish it. A few more pages and I’ll be ready. See you on the other side.