I am still trying to write well.
George Sturt wrote to me recently about fiction as an exercise for the intellect & fiction as the presentment of feeling for the appreciation of feeling, & one great and lovely fact became clear to me - I don't give a damn for the theory of our sacred art! Guided by an instinct which I cannot explain & on which I rely without knowing why, I seek to write down a story which I have imagined with only fitfully clear vision. Why I select certain scenes, why I make a beginning of a chapter at this point, and end a chapter at another point, why I go into minute detail here & slur over whole months there - God only knows. The only vital part of any art can never be learnt & certainly cannot be talked about with the slightest advantage. And yet one likes to talk about it & hear it talked about.
For more on George Sturt see 'George Sturt & me' -
For example, at an afternoon tea business on Sunday last, at the house of a member of our staff with whom I have recently chummed up, I met a girl (I suspect that we had been invited precisely to meet each other) who has written three novels, two of which I know to be good & which I have praised in Woman, not without enthusiasm. Her name is Symonds (niece of John Addington Symonds) & she calls herself George Paston. About my age. We fastened on to each other at once in spite of her extraordinary plainness of feature; her face is untouched by beauty. We just jawed about ourselves for two hours. She is just like George & me, has precisely the same difficulties, the same exultations, depressions, full stops, frenzies of production. Aside from George, I never met anyone with whom I was in so complete (artistic) sympathy. She gave me one or two tips & I gave her one. I don't think she knows more of writing than we do. She firmly believes in working only two hours a day, but not shirking that whether she feels in exact trim or the reverse. I think I must give the two hours a trial! I couldn't get her to give George Moore a good word, but never mind. I should have got more out of her had we not frequently been interrupted by an abnormally clever woman who writes for the Pall Mall Gazette. However, I shall take particular care to encounter Miss Symonds again as soon as may be; I think she ought to be cultivated.
For more on Miss Symonds see 'Sincere artistic ladies' -
Additionally for February 1st., see 'Approaching contentment' -
If I could spend every day as I have spent today, happiness would be almost within grasp. A couple of hours editorial work in the office in the morning. After dinner I read myself to sleep with d'Annunzio's "Annales d'Anne", and when I awoke I went to pay some money into the bank. Then I schemed out in my head the next chapter of my novel. From six to nine I worked fairly easily at my novel, drafting 2,300 words - a complete chapter. After supper, I opened a new copy of Arnold's "Essays in Criticism" (Second series) and read the essay on Tolstoy.
I shall read myself to sleep (for the second time today) with Maria Edgeworth's "Belinda". In spite of the laziest liver in the world, I am well nigh content with myself tonight.