Books Magazine

I Was Only Cured of This Mania Much Later

By Jaac
Since The Life of Henry Brulard is still lying next to this computer, I thought I should add to to Scott Esposito's thoughts 'On How Writers Write' the following observations by Stendhal/ Beyle. On the one hand he laments:
I always waited for the moment of inspiration to write.
I was only cured of this mania much later. [...] This folly seriously affected my productivity; even in 1806 I waited for the moment of genius to write.
[...] If, around 1795, I had spoken of my intention of writing, some sensible man would have told me: "Write something every day for a couple of hours, genius or no genius." Such a remark would have induced me to make good use of ten years of my life which I have idiotically spent in waiting for genius. (p. 144-5)

And yet later:
About 1794, I was foolishly awaiting the moment of genius. Something like the voice of God speaking from the burning bush to Moses. This silliness made me waste a lot of time, but may perhaps have prevented me from being satisfied with the semi-commonplace as are so many writers of talent (for instance M. Loeve-Veimars). (p.229 - all italics are Stendhal's)

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