I’ve been reading Bartleby & Company, which is a novel about writer’s block. It puts me in mind of the first chapter of The Confessions of Zeno (last cigarette), or maybe some characters from Camus. It’s all meta, but that’s the zeitgeist; at least this is a good one.
The whole book is a series of reasons for not writing, people who didn’t write, people who destroyed their writing, people who didn’t finish, etc. Since I myself am the writer who doesn’t, it’s an attractive topic.
My father wrote a novel called Tenth which took as its theme the fact that great composers don’t finish their tenth symphonies, and our protagonist takes on the task of finishing one. A nice touch in Tenth is that the composer in question is Thomas Mann’s fictional Adrian Leverkuhn.
I don’t know why I can’t write. I haven’t since about 1995, really. It’s not that I think the world is deprived of some wonderful thing I have inside me. It’s more that I feel constipated and grumpy about it.
There are no mute, inglorious Miltons, save in the hallucinations of poets. The one sound test of a Milton is that he functions as a Milton. — H.L. Mencken