David Foster Wallace on Writing

Possibly the most cliché blog title that has ever existed, but nevertheless this article about a writer’s relationship with their work is worth stumbling over his verbose style to read. It takes up Don DeLillo’s description of a book in progress as being a hideously deformed infant and kneads that metaphor for a couple of thousand words.

If you’re not up to reading the whole thing, the key quotation for me is:

You love your infant very much. And you want others to love it, too, when the time finally comes for the damaged infant to go out and face the world.

So you’re in a bit of a dicey position: you love the infant and want others to love it, but that means you hope others won’t see it correctly. You want to sort of fool people: you want them to see as perfect what you in your heart know is a betrayal of all perfection.

Or else you don’t want to fool these people; what you want is you want them to see and love a lovely, miraculous, perfect, ad-ready infant and to be rightcorrect, in what they see and feel. You want to be terribly wrong: you want the damaged infant’s hideousness to turn out to have been nothing but your own weird delusion or hallucination.


EDIT: While we’re on this, here’s another lengthy article, this time by David Nicholls, on the process of adapting Great Expectations for the screen.

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