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Sunday, 26 January 2014

On 'pot-boilers'

Thursday, January 26th., St. Dunstan's Chambers, London.

Regent Street. The shops exhibit luxuries from all the ends of the earth, and, in the fine frosty afternoon, hundreds of people who had more than they needed, walked or drove up and down the fashionable street in search of something, anything, which they did not already possess. It was a beautiful sight for the sandwich men.

Sensational serials. Several people have cast missiles at me for troubling with such things. But why should I not write an exciting serial if I so desire? Exciting fiction is as much a form of art as any other sort of fiction. I finished my serial on Monday and I may say, quite without prejudice, that it is very good - ingenious, full of trepidations, and eloquent: those who begin it will finish it. I have a very good reason for this 'pot-boiling'. It is not my intention all my life to sit here editing a miserable female paper, or any other paper. In fact I have now had as much of editing as I want. My desire is to be moving on and I shall not remain at Woman a moment longer than I can help. But if I leave journalism I must find something else. That something else is fiction. It dawns upon me that fiction is my forte. But if I continued to turn out psychological treatises like "A Man from the North", I might earn some sort of reputation, but I should not, most emphatically, earn a livelihood. Therefore I must do, to begin with, the sort of fiction that will sell. I don't see that sensational fiction is any worse 'pot-boiling' than editing a weekly paper. And I know that I would vastly sooner do the fiction than the editing. It is nearer to my special faculty and I can get real fun out of it. But my great ambition at present is not to be tied to an office, and my efforts are directed to the breaking of theses chains.

Additionally for January 26th., see 'Last of the big gamblers' -

Inside the gaming saloons (4 o'clock) I found a large crowd and many tables in full work. The crowd not so distinguished in appearance as I had (foolishly) expected. I saw few signs at the tables of  suppressed or expressed excitement, though quite a large proportion of the people seemed to be gambling seriously. I had no intention of betting, but after I had watched several tables and grasped the details of roulette (30 and 40 I didn't attempt to grasp) I remained at one table, as if hypnotised; without knowing it I began to finger a 5-franc piece in my pocket, and then I became aware that I was going to bet. I knew I should bet some seconds before I formally decided to. I staked a 5-franc piece on an even chance and won. Like a provincial up from the country, who has heard tales of metropolitan rascality, I stood close to a croupier and kept a careful eye on my coin, and picked up the winnings without an instant's delay. I kept on playing, carefully, and always on even chances, for some time, and stopped when I had made a little money and went and had some tea. I didn't play again.

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