It’s fairly easy to achieve a quality of 90%, especially if one has a certain amount of experience with the medium, but then progress slows down. The faucet closes and the river becomes a trickle. Above 95% one has to claw oneself slowly forward, crab-like, three steps forward, two steps back, repeat. It’s always a frustrating effort, but worthwhile in the end.
It was intersting, reading about William Gibson’s struggles with writing today. I am looking forward to his new book in September. Spook Country was brilliant, I thought.
Q: Which novels did you enjoy writing most?
A: Writing novels is a painful and anxiety-ridden process, for me. There are *moments* of enjoyment. I very much enjoy the state of having written.
A: They’re all equally if differently painful, and each one seems, at some point, to me, to be not only a very bad novel, but the worst novel ever written. That crisis, I’ve learned, indicates that I’ll be finished soon, and that the worst is over. But knowing that doesn’t seem to decrease that devastating and absolute conviction of utter failure.
Q: Seemed to me you enjoyed Spook Country. That so?
A: As usual, I was terrified throughout. The pace seemed utterly glacial, to me. The essential thing is to have at least one trusted daily first reader. Four or five, even better. But the keyword is “trusted”. When it comes to evaluating my own work, truly, my head has a contract out on my ass.
From the book Lines Around China, words by Li Bai:
The wind that breaks a petal
And by Men Haoran (689-740):
How we have overslept the Spring Morning!
Here, there, everywhere, birds
are heard twittering.
After a long night’s noise
of wind and rain, how many petals
are fallen on the ground
In the golden evening light filtering through pine trees
I make nine prostrations to the Buddha we are