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Friday, 17 May 2013

Finishing with Anna

Friday May 17th., Trinity Hall Farm, Hockliffe.

I finished "Anna Tellwright" this morning at 2.45 a.m., after 17 hours continuous work, save for meals, on the last 5,000 words. I was very pleased with it; slept well for 4 hours, got up with a frightful headache, and cycled through Hemel Hempstead to St. Albans, lunched at the George, and home - 42 miles. "A.T." is 74,000 in length.

On the subject of finishing a novel, I can only speak positively about my own feelings, but I have often questioned my brethren in disease, both great and small, and I find that mine represent about the average. My first feeling on finishing a novel is certainly one of incredulity. "It can't really be true that I have finished the confounded thing." For you must observe that a novel wants a lot of writing. Fancy writing out in longhand all that print! How would you like to do it? As a matter of fact the writing is a bore, and has a way of seeming interminable. So at first I am incredulous. My next feeling is a sudden feeling that takes me sharply like a pain in the back. The thought strikes me: "There's something peculiar in me today. What is it? And then I remember: "Oh, yes, that book is finished." The feeling returns at intervals for several days.

However, the dominant feeling in my mind is beyond question a feeling that I never want to see that book again, or any part of it, or to hear anything about it (except warm praise). And in particular I dismiss all the characters with profound relief. "For heaven's sake," I say to them, "depart utterly! I am sick of you! Do you hear? I am sick of you!" Yes, I say that even to the heroine, whose nobility of soul and true womanliness in the great renunciation chapter ought to move all hearts. I treat that unparalleled creature as though she were a scullion's wench. I have the right; no one else has. My attitude towards the unfortunate book is such that I fear the top of my head will come off if I am forced to correct the proofs. Regret at parting with the characters? No, no! My experience is that immediately one lot of characters has been kicked out another lot begins to collect in their place

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