Last summer I decided it was time to stop twiddling my thumbs and get to the point. I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember but I never had the courage to admit to myself (let alone to other people) that this is what I really want to do. I went to graduate school to be around other people like me (i.e., book nerds) and to learn to write like a professor. I’ve made great progress since my first semester—I went from struggling to produce one 20-page paper in an academic year to struggling to produce three 20-page papers in a semester. As I stared down a year of editing past papers and preparing to write a 300-page manuscript, I decided enough was enough. I want to be Published.
Well, I still want to be Published. I’ve spent the last year tinkering on the Lady Byron paper, building a blog and following (I love you guys!!!), and working on a new manuscript. I now have 80K words in a novel that is ever-growing, and Lady Byron needs a few more spins in the rinse cycle before heading out into that Brave New World of Peer Review. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished this past year, but there’s more I want to achieve. Ambition, I has it.
In the spirit of “Same Thing, More Better,” I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to produce more of it and make sure it’s of better quality than the last. And in the spirit of my favorite writing rule “Read a lot and write a lot,” I’m going to make sure I do lots of both.
This leads me to the topic of today’s post. Marcel Proust’s epic tome In Search of Lost Time is “one of the most entertaining reading experiences in any language and arguably the finest novel of the twentieth century.” Says so right here on the cover of my Penguin edition of Lydia Davis’s new translation of “Swann’s Way.” Word on the street says if you want to be a Great Writer, you gotta read Proust. So this summer, once finals are over and the shoes are kicked off, I’m going to be dipping my toes in Proust.
Now that I know the whos, and whats of the publishing industry, I want to know the wherefores and hows. Why do I keep writing? How do I improve my writing? Wherefore art I a Writer? (any Shakespearean peeps want to help me with the syntax of that last one?) I’m not going to pretend that reading Proust will make me a better person, help me write my prospectus, or even improve my writing. But it’s a challenge and one that I look forward to facing.
Anyone care to join me for the ride?