09 February 2011

Quotation about writing

I came across this lovely description of a budding author's behaviour when writing:

Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and 'fall into a vortex', as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace. Her 'scribbling suit' consisted of a black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action. This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping in their heads semi-occasionally to ask, with interest, "Does genius burn, Jo?" They did not always venture even to ask this question, but took an observation of the cap, and judged accordingly. If this expressive article of dress was drawn low upon the forehead, it was a sign that hard work was going on, in exciting moments it was pushed rakishly askew, and when despair seized the author it was plucked wholly off, and cast upon the floor. At such times the intruder silently withdrew, and not until the red bow was seen gaily erect upon the gifted brow, did anyone dare address Jo.

She did not think herself a genius by any means, but when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care, or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh. Sleep forsook her eyes, meals stood untasted, day and night were all too short to enjoy the happiness which blessed her only at such times, and made these hours worth living, even if they bore no other fruit. The devine afflatus usually lasted a week or two, and then she emerged from her 'vortex', hungry, sleepy, cross, or despondent. 
From Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

I'm reading Little Women for the first time in an unabbreviated version, and enjoying seeing the familiar storylines unfold in fuller detail than the previously read shortened version or the films could ever show.

3 comments:

Dorte H said...

And now I wonder... is my version abbreviated or not?

I´ll have to check that. I loved L.M. Alcott´s books when I was young but haven´t picked them up again since then.

bestronamcebooks said...

One of my favorite books of all time! Nice site by the way.

Bibliophile said...

Bestronamcebooks, thanks. Yours is pretty nice too.

Dorte, if it's a translation, it may well be. Some of the old Icelandic editions of English language classics were translated from Danish or German translations rather than the originals and often sadly bowdlerised.