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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Monday, 27 January 2014
Following the timetable
Finished today the fifth 'deed' of "Denry the Audacious". It is pretty good. probably too good for a serial. Also received a copy of the third edition of "The Old Wives' Tale", and began to cut passages of it so as to make it short enough for Tauchnitz. Not as difficult as I expected it to be, but nevertheless a desolating and unsatisfactory business. Arthur Waugh wrote me that it was 'a sacrilege'.
Although I now do more work, more regularly than I ever did, I feel more tired more definitely and more consciously than I did four or five years ago. I remember when I was writing "Leonora" at the Hotel du Quai Voltaire, I used to go out into the Rue de Rivoli (towards the end of the book) with a sensation as if the top of my head would come off. But I did not recognise it as fatigue, simply as the result of worry, a nuisance. I can now work hard all morning and I feel tired, and I know that if I kept on after lunch I should probably be ill. But by consciously refusing to think of my work, by vegetating, I can be sure that by tea-time I shall be restored, and can work again for a bit without letting myself in for a bilious attack. But I have to menager myself.
On Monday and yesterday afternoons I wrote the first chapter of a book about novel writing and the fiction-reading public, which will appear in pieces over Jacob Tonson's name. I was most enthusiastic over it. I calculate that in twenty weeks it will be done, and a striking book ready to be published. This is an extra. The notion probably came to me from my instinctive hatred of wasting newspaper articles. I hate to think that anything I write is bad enough, or fragmentary enough, to be lost forever in the files of a paper.
I am writing a pretty good lot but I am not doing much else. Not yet at the end of the second volume of "Les Origines" - in two months. No other reading, except newspapers as usual, and bits of Poe. Rather startled by the first-classness of some of Poe's lyrics, such as "The Haunted Palace".
In weather the season continues bad. Two days of fog or mist then one day of splendid sunshine. And so on. No snow on the south face of the mountain. In the mountain, in the protected folds, large quantities of snow. I go walks there, and follow tracks made by an animal alone - I don't know what animal. When there is the least danger of slipping I think: "If I fell and sprained my ankle it would probably mean my death." This is quite exciting, half pleasant, half unpleasant. When venturing up a steep slope to find a possible path, I think: "I ought not to do this." The great danger is certainly that of exposure after an accident.
I am always meaning to write character sketches of people in the hotel - as exercise - but I never do. The fact is that to write a 65,000 word book, full of novel incident, in two months, and a showy travaillee article once a week, leaves one with not much energy. The timetable has to be followed with exactitude, and it is assez juste.
A middle-aged Dutchman instructs me in billiards most evenings.
Additionally for January 27th., see 'A practical philosopher' -
"I've driven these roads for eight-and-twenty year, and the only pal I've found is Cod Liver Oil. From September to March I takes it, and I never has rheumatism and I never has colds nor nothing o' that sort. I give it to my children ever since they was born, and now I'm blest if they don't cry for it."
He finished; he had imparted his wisdom, delivered his message, and with the fine instinct denied to so many literary artists, he knew when to be silent. We asked him to stop, and he did so without a word. "Good night," we said; but he had done with speech for that evening, and gave us no reply. We alighted. The bus rolled away into the mirror-like vista of the street.