Wednesday, June 16, 2010

La Fin: When to Stop Scribbling

There is that moment when the final sentence has been typed, where the writer sits back and basks in the glory of accomplishment. The seemingly impossible has been achieved. Where others have failed, you have succeeded. The project that gave you sleepless nights, that made you feel schizophrenic when your characters spoke to you, that sometimes produced a drug-like state where words trickled off your finger tips onto the keyboard like you were a tool in the process rather than the creator – that project, your novel, is done. But is it really?

“Finished” is such a fickle word for the literarily inclined. Just because that last line is written doesn’t mean that the project is anywhere close to ready. For someone in that purgatory between finishing the last page and editing the manuscript to a point where an agent pounces hungrily upon it, this poster (, with proceeds going to 826 National (, made me really happy and made me ponder.

To me, there are many levels of finished. There is first-rough-draft finished. There is adding-character-profundity-and-vigor finished; typing-up-loose-plot-points finished; conclusion-of-grammar-and-spelling-check finished; line-by-line-poetic-brilliance finished, (the last I strive for and pray to achieve).

As a writer, when is it time to call the manuscript done, or is it ever time? To all the writers out there, what would you say?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sophistication or Bibliomania?

In a time where sophistication wasn’t measured by the size of one’s flat-screen television or the apps on a smart-phone, the library was where one proved one’s merit. In my travels, the library of the Festetics Castle in Keszthely, Hungary mesmerized me and put my own personal library to shame.

This library, as you can see from our video, is two stories high, with volumes across genres, across languages, and from across time. The detailed, dark woodwork and marble floors lend grandeur to the words protected on these bookcases. My only complaint was that these dusty manuscripts weren’t accessible to the literary tourist, but I could understand the desire for preservation.

My favorite room had a hidden door covertly concealed within the shelves. This was a library overflowing with stories, and surely not all of these tales were those written upon pages.

In 2010, those among us who treasure and build our collections of tomes might just be considered hoarders. There’s even a psychological disorder for those addicted to collecting books: bibliomania. But there’s something about the collection of books that can never be matched by a “library” on a Kindle. There’s something nostalgic and magnificent, something we as writers understand more than anyone else.

Am I alone in my ardor?