Giving birth to a novel

Much of writing might be described as mental pregnancy with successive difficult deliveries – J.B. Priestley, quoted by Donnalane Nelson.

Difficult births seem to be the hallmark of a certain breed of author for whom creation is akin to intense suffering and writing is a pain they relish but constantly complain of. Then there are those authors for whom writing is a joy and creativeness a pleasure, akin to beholding the starlit sky at night, uplifting and inspiring. For them words just flow. Not that they don’t need to labour over their drafts to ready them for print, but the underlying feeling is delight. Neither group has the monopoly on good writing, although the first look with much suspicion and doubt on the second whereas the second gaze on the first with incomprehension if not sadness at their suffering.

The photo: JB Priestley in 1931. MI5 called him ‘an independent leftwing liberal whose conscience seems to be answerable not to any political party’. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty. Source: The Guardian.

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