Nothing doing this morning with my short story. So that before breakfast I had already come to the decision that I would leave it for today, and write my next week's Evening Standard article instead. Which I did. Then at 3.30 Saville, together with a scenario writer, came to discuss a scenario for "The Pretty Lady". I made it absolutely clear that Christine must remain absolutely a prostitute.
As my Standard article will be the last this year I have made it a general one, about reading and readers.
You simply can't help the tyro to choose what to read. The choice is vast and he must let his fancy choose. He may make mistakes. In fact, he will. But it is his business to make mistakes. The tyro is like a homing pigeon first released from its basket, rising and surveying all the earth within its range of vision. All one can urge him (or her) to do is to keep a cool head in coming to the full realisation of the vast and varied mass of really fine literature which English writers have produced in the last 600 years. Nobody can read everything, or the hundredth part of everything. And the person who sets out to read everything will know nothing worth knowing, because his task will have cut him off from life itself.
For myself, at the end of half a century of struggle, I have given up the appalling enterprise of 'keeping abreast'. And not just in books. I have run till I am breathless after music, and after painting, and after architecture. So I take holidays from being in the movement. During which holidays, which sometimes continue for months at a stretch, I totally refuse to go to concerts, or I refuse to go to picture galleries, or I refuse to look at buildings. I just lie down and, glancing up now and then from a book, sardonically watch the strugglers struggling.
It is essential in my view to have frequent adventures in the foolish, wise, vain invaluable world. Most of these adventures are unprofitable, or not directly profitable. However I have had them, and none has been utterly futile because they have saved me from feeling 'apart'. When I look back at the literature of this or any year I discover that not much of it has stuck in my mind. Nevertheless, if I had the year to live again I would not in this respect live it differently. I have had contacts. I have been among the things that are. That will be my New Year thought.