20 Lines a Day, Genius or Not
My unwritten dissertation is punching me in the face. I've submitted, revised, and resubmitted my proposal to committee members and beyond, so all I have to do now is start writing. I told myself. In December. Two months later, I'm desperate. So today, I have decided: I'm going to do as Harry Mathews did when he attempted to write at least "20 lines a day, genius or not." Just now, when I went to Amazon to get the link, I was reminded that Mathews borrowed the idea from Stendhal. It concerns me that my first public post in years, my first attempt at writing daily again, has been inspired by Stendhal and a writer whose first name is a man's name and whose last name is also a man's name. Since winter break, I've been designing hypothetical syllabi. "Women & Power," a craft course on dialogue, is inspired by Mary Beard's Women & Power: A Manifesto. I'll have more to say about that soon, but for now I'm still just thinking my way through it. I've been trying to read more every day, too, to get back on the schedule I was on while studying for exams. This afternoon, I finished two more chapters of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. Lindsey gave me this book a few years ago. I loved the first chapter then, and I loved it all over again yesterday, when I plucked the book off my shelf and decided to finally finish it. I also read some poems from the latest Tin House. While eating pizza I stared at the cover of this issue of The New York Review of Books, which is on my ottoman. Right now I'm wondering what, if anything, the following novels have in common, besides the obvious: I Capture the Castle (Smith); We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Jackson); The Castle (Kafka); The Castle of Crossed Destinies (Calvino); The Man in the High Castle (Dick); The Castle of Otranto (Walpole), The White Castle (Pamuk). This is the worst post in the history of worst posts ever. I guess that's where the "or not" comes in.