Saturday, November 18, 2006

Days 24-27

As you can see from the trusty chart, work has proceeded, even if somewhat fitfully. I accumulated 117 words on Day 25 and another 96 on Day 27, raising the total by some 213 to 20,899. 21,000 is just over that next rise.

One of the things that I'm having the spreadsheet calculate for me is an average of how many words I write per day over the total 40 days of this experiment. If I stopped today, I'd be averaging about 51 words per day. The average for 27 days is about 76.

Instead of working yesterday afternoon, I futzed around in Wikipedia and came across a link that brought me to an interview that S.J. Perelman did in the Paris Review in 1963. He says many great and funny things in them, including this: "I used to know several eminent writers who were given to boasting of the speed with which they created. It's not a lovable attribute, to put it mildly, and I'm afraid our acquaintanceship has languished."

He also said, when asked if he reread his old stuff, "[L]et me assure you I don't sit in the chimney corner cackling over what I've written."

And, "I don't know whether I approve of the picture you suggest of me, lounging about admiring myself in a hand mirror."

And, "In my more pompous moments I like to think of myself as a writer rather than a humorist, but I suppose that's merely the vanity of advancing age."

And, on writing for TV and movies, "[W]hile it's ignominious to be an anonymous gagman, perhaps, eleven hundred dollars a week can be very emollient to the ego."

And, after being told that Hervey Allen, the author of Anthony Adverse, channelled his ancestors to help him write, "I fully believe it, judging from my memory of his work."

And, when asked how many drafts he did, "Thirty-seven. I once tried doing thirty-three, but something was lacking, a certain--how shall I say?--je ne sais quoi. On another occasion, I tried forty-two versions, but the final effect was too lapidary--you know what I mean, Jack?"

This is why I love Perelman. That's music, Jack.

Here's an copy of a manuscript page from a story Perelman wrote, proving that it's never as easy as it looks on the printed page:

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