Tuesday, January 21, 2003

In point of fact...

I'm an idler, a fiction addict, a confused person with little social utility. But I know I can change.

My new idea: Schedules. Schedules are what made it possible for Anthony Trollope to write all those novels. Getting up early in the morning...working from a set time to a set time. End of spontaneity, fly by night choices.

How long does it take for one's character to become set? When young are we like wet cement but when old like dry? Don't people make striking transformations at later points in their lives? How old was Henry IV when he got it together?

In other words: Can I change? Can I accomplish something spectacular before it's too late? Or rather--something workaday but decent that will ensure future income to myself and my progeny?

Speaking of procreating--Hey...that's something. The irony is that--in spite of all my high test scores and feminism I aspire to...no, dream of...the life of a 1930's middle class housewife. No, make that an upper middle-class housewife. And always have. In high school when the alarm went off I used to think: All I want is to sleep in with my babies.

And the fact was--since my mother had lots of babies and they were younger than me I knew what it was to sleep in with babies. (My parents tended to keep the babies up late at night because they worked late. None of us were early risers as babies. We never went to sleep earlier than 11 p.m.)

Maugham on Fiction Addiction

"Some people read for instruction, which is praiseworthy, and some for pleasure, which is innocent, but not a few read from habit and I suppose that this is neither innocent nor praiseworthy. Of that lamentable company am I. Conversation after a time bores me, games tire me, and my own thoughts, which we are told are the unfailing resource of a sensible man, have a tendency to run dry. They I fly to my book as the opium smoker to his pipe. I would sooner read the catalogue of the Army and Navy Stores or Bradshaw's Guide than nothing at all...Of course to read in this was is as reprehensible as doping, and I never cease to wonder at the impertinence of great readers who, because they are such, look down on the illiterate. From the standpoint of what eternity is it better to have read a thousand books than to have ploughed a million furrows? Let us admit that reading with us is just a drug that we cannot do without...and so let us be no more vainglorious than the poor slaves of the hypodermic needle or the pint pot...."

The Book Bag


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