One thing about the festive season is that there is sometimes a little more time for sitting and reading, reading and sitting.
For me, the reading included Stephen King's Billy Summers, and this quotation leapt out at me. How did he know about the unfinished thing that lurks on my i-Cloud drive. I know it's there. Will I ever finish it? And how many of us are the same?
The central character has started to write a book, for the first time. He is really a paid assassin, and living as a writer is his 'cover', but it quickly draws him in.
"He looks at the first line – The man my ma lived with came home with a broke arm – and feels a kind of despair. This is good work, he feels sure of it, but what felt light when he started now feels heavy, because he has a responsibility to make the rest just as good and he's not sure he can do it.
He goes to the periscope window and looks out at more nothing, wondering if he's just discovered why so many would-be writers are unable to finish what they have started. The thinks of The Things They Carried, surely one of the best books about war ever written, maybe thebest. He thinks writing is also a kind of war, one you fight with yourself. The story is what you carry and every time you add to it, it gets heavier.
All over the world there are half-finished books – memoirs, poetry, novels, surefire plans for getting thin or rich – in desk drawers, because the work got too heavy for the people trying to carry it and they put it down.
Some other time, they think. Maybe when the kids are a little older. Or when I retire."
Stephen King, Billy Summers
Hodder & Stoughton, 2021