William Landay's Blog
May 22, 2013
It is as good as I had power to make it—by myself. Had I been nervous about its being a perfect piece, and with that view asked advice, and trembled over every page, it would not have been written; for it is not in my nature to fumble—I will write independently.—I have written independently without Judgment. I may write independently, and with Judgment, hereafter. The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself—that which is creative must create itself—In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.
John Keats, in an 1818 letter to his publisher, responding to critics of his poem “Endymion” (punctuation as in original)
May 9, 2013
I work slowly; it’s always difficult—it’s nearly always difficult. I’ve been writing steadily, really, since I was twenty years old, and now I’m eighty-one. My routine now is to get up in the morning, have some coffee, start to write. And then a little later on, I might take a break and have something to eat and go on writing. The serious writing is done in the morning. I don’t think I can use a lot of time in the beginning; I maybe can only do about three hours. I do rewrite a lot, and I rewrite and then I think it’s all done, and I send it in. And then I want to rewrite it some more. Sometimes it seems to me that a couple of words are so important that I’ll ask for the book back so that I can put them in.
May 8, 2013
Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.
How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.
Ernest Hemingway, 1954 Nobel Prize Speech
May 7, 2013
May 6, 2013
April 19, 2013
Above: “Close Play at First, Fenway Park, 1934.” Leslie Jones Collection, Boston Public Library Print Department. Via DPLA. (Click image to see full-size.)
April 8, 2013
In the last few weeks Defending Jacob has been nominated for three remarkable awards: the Massachusetts Book Award, the ITW Thriller Award for Best Novel, and the Strand Magazine Critics Award, also for best novel. I am deeply flattered and grateful for all three nominations.
Beautiful web site from photographer Andrew Zuckerman with a gallery of remarkable photographs of animals. The concept: ”Substituting his minimalist visual language for the conventions of traditional nature photography, Zuckerman extracted his subjects from their environments and recontextualized them in the clarifying white space to distill each animal to its most essential qualities.”
March 28, 2013
Over the last few weeks this site has been updated. Nothing major — improved typography, simplified layout. But a few changes might affect visitors:
RSS Feed. The RSS feed has been shifted from the dying FeedBurner to the site’s own native RSS feed. If you subscribe to the blog via RSS, you will need to update that address to the new RSS feed.
Blog posts via email. I have removed the option of receiving blog posts via email. The trouble with having a blog-by-email subscriber list — which auto-generated an email to subscribers every time I added a post to the blog — was that it inhibited me from using the blog as I’d like to: for short, occasional, unimportant posts that are more like scrapbook entries than essays. Those quick posts do not justify bothering several hundred people with an email, which made me shy about posting anything at all to my own blog. Former blog-by-email subscribers will continue to receive the once- or twice-yearly email newsletter, and can of course subscribe to the blog via any RSS reader.
Comments. The moribund comment sections of the blog also have been eliminated. There just weren’t enough people commenting to justify the cost in space and clutter. Eliminating comments allowed for a cleaner, lighter design. Most visitors who wanted to comment about something just emailed me anyway, which I encourage readers to do.
Tumblr. I have abandoned my Tumblr blog and merged the contents back into this blog. For the last couple of years I used Tumblr as a scrapbook for things I found around the web — images, video clips, ephemera — while the main blog was reserved for longer, essay-style blog posts. Alas, those long posts have become rare, especially in the tumult of publicizing Defending Jacob. Also, maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I like having everything in one place, here on the main blog. I also found Tumblr quite restrictive in its design.