"In the 1950s, Forester wrote only two novels about Horatio Hornblower, so the patience of his fans was severely tested. And not just his fans; there's a story that whenever his American publishers found their profits threatened, they dispatched an envoy to California with orders to stay with Forester until he finally agreed, however reluctantly, to write another Hornblower."Writing was Forester's life. And he was extremely successful at it. But he never talks about writing without using words like, hard, exacting and exhausting. 'I would rather be in the dentist's chair,' he claimed in the Hornblower companion. After completing his daily quota of words, he felt sick, weary, flat. 'There is no pleasure left in life,' he wrote. 'I am drained and empty.' "
historical note by Bernard Cornwall, describing C.S. Forester,author of Hornblower and the Hotspur
It is easy to write a blog. There is little fear of being held to account for what's written, partly because the media's legitimacy is so lowered by people writing about their cats having kittens or the latest rant about paying tolls on an empty highway on a Sunday. And partly because another post can be smeared on top of the post before, and in good time the bad posts can be smothered out of consciousness in favour of what's new today. Like they used to say, today's newspapers will be used to wrap fish tomorrow.
But published works have their own significance. A writer is measured by a novel in much the same way that we are measured for a coffin. It is impossible to unburden ourselves from that implication, as sentence by sentence we structure a work from beginning to end. If I write a bad line in a series of blog posts, something that years later makes little sense, no one will judge me as a writer for that; but if I make a similar mistake in a published book, I will be damned for it for eternity.
It is well there is no afterlife. If there was, I pity Shakespeare for the misery he has suffered in the butchery of his work, the criticism and the groans of undesirious children. There is no heaven for a famous writer.
Not that I wouldn't want to be one. Which, of course, is the center of the trouble. This blog post will not make me famous, it will not cement my value or promote me to the stars. But there's an idiotically slim chance that my novel might, a chance that can't be rooted from my mind no matter how indifferent I try to be. And this makes every choice, every sentence, every scene resolution an abiding misery. Writing is perhaps the only art where, the closer one comes to the completion of the goal, the less pleasant it becomes.
But. Tasting it now. I can fucking taste it.