Tag Archives: Maud Newton

A writer’s time

[T]here is nothing harder to estimate than a writer’s time, nothing harder to keep track of. There are moments — moments of sustained creation — when his time is fairly valuable; and there are hours and hours when a writer’s time isn’t worth the paper he is not writing anything on.

—EB White,
in One Man’s Meat
(via Maud Newton)


9:30 P.M. Dread resumption of office job in the morning. Regret all choices and circumstances that have led to necessity of having a day job. Recall A.O. Scott’s hilarious (yet sympathetic) indictment of Generation X in last week’s “Week in Review” piece on Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask. Track it down and reread. Reflect on the ultimate pointlessness of trying to escape the slacker mindset.

9:40 P.M. Begin drinking (bourbon).

Maud Newton

Overwhelmed with Admiration

About a third of the way through [Rupert Thomson’s This Party’s Got to Stop], I had to take a break. The essay I’m writing had stalled. My verbs seemed unconscionably obvious next to his, my sentences clumsy, my narrative voice about as natural as a conversation heard through a tin horn. I was, as always, struggling with structure. … Of course this isn’t the first time I’ve been so overwhelmed with admiration for someone else’s work that I could barely stand to look at my own. … For occasions like this, for the past couple years, I’ve kept on hand a well-reviewed novel that I don’t like or respect. It’s sitting on my desk right now, in fact. I don’t re-read it in any detail, because I don’t want it to contaminate my thinking, but flicking through the book makes me feel better about my own work, however imperfect it may be.

Maud Newton

Sleep, eat, procrastinate, and write

A friend who just finished writing a(n excellent) book in a short period of time says you have to ignore your brain when it tells you it’s done for the day. You may think you can’t keep going, but if you push on, what comes out will be even better. The next day, do the same. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Also, no socializing. Apart from whatever job pays the bills, do nothing but sleep, eat, procrastinate, and write.

Maud Newton

The Rest of Us

I’m always impressed and more than a little amazed when writers hand over their drafts for posterity like that. The willingness to reveal notes and thoughts-in-progress must separate the geniuses from the rest of us.

I destroy as I go. I write some pages, type them into my ongoing draft, tear the handwritten versions into a trillion pieces and throw them in a garbage bag with the cat litter.

Maud Newton