Thursday, April 29, 2010

Re The Sudden Disappearance of My Talent

My writing has become really stupid: for weeks I've been driveling, writing parodies of the stuff I used to write when I really could write. It's ghastly, I can't stand to look at the stuff. Once I was able to write. Wasn't I?

In this anxiety I go back to my archives, six months ago or so, and start reading. With relief, I find that as recently as that, I could still write. There's plenty to dislike: infelicities, repetitions, stupidities. But they could be fixed. My writing didn't become awful until the last few weeks. It really used to be pretty good. I wonder what happened? How did it go so horribly wrong?

This first couple times this happened to me, I believed in it. Now I know that nothing has happened to my writing, and that six months from now I'll be reassured by the goodness of the very stuff that horrifies me today. It's simply a mental disease, a recurrent fever, a malarial infection of my confidence. That the question arises at all is a signal that an outbreak is underway. C.S. Lewis somewhere or other noted that how good we are is not usually our business. We're very seldom called upon to evaluate the general worth of our work. Whether this particular sentence is right, whether this paragraph fits properly, whether that word is quite accurate – that's my business. Whether I'm a good writer is somebody else's business, if it's anybody's. I'm the last person to make a good objective decision about it, and anyway, what good would such a judgment do anyone? I'm not going to stop, even if it's awful.

So ho hum, and who cares? Caveat lector. Today's blog post is the work of a pseudo-writer. You'll have to defend yourselves as best you can from its bottomless triteness, its unfathomable awfulness. I'm not going to do it for you.

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