SLOWing Up at The Millions


4 September 2009

I have a post up at The Millions today, about SLOWness.

The irony is that the post was written (for me) relatively quickly.  Anything written in a single day, for me, is quickly.  It means that the thoughts/words have not had time to percolate, to rise up and whisper to me (often as I’m trying to sleep), to let me know that they  need more from me — more tweaking, more developing, more editing, more detail, whatever.  Sometimes, if I’d had more time, I would have realized that the whole essay is just crap — that is, the crap that can often productively precede a completely different essay, the one I really meant to write.

My too-late after-thoughts on this particular post have to do with self-justification — a notion that’s been echoing for me ever since I posted about Lorrie Moore earlier this week.

I wonder if SLOWness is a virtue or a flaw.  I like to talk and write about it as a virtue, and I think I really believe this; and yet, I also think that my own slowness in particular  feels more like a flaw, which conveniently gets self-justified as I laud slowness-in-general as a virtue.

Which is why I still like Moore’s quote about the creepily detached artist.  However reaching, it’s an effort to move from self-justification to simple self-acceptance.  It says, hey, look, I’m not very social, but I’m writing books, ok?

For me, it’s hey, look, I’m slow (and, um, also not very social); but I’m writing books, ok? 

Or, if you read the post at The Millions, at least trying to… 

The words of Jose Saramago, in the final post on his blog this week, will be my echo for the next few days:  “Goodbye therefore. Until another day? I sincerely don’t think so. I have started another book and want to dedicate all my time to it.”


2 Responses to “SLOWing Up at The Millions”

  1. lisa peet Says:

    As a fellow SLOW sister, I loved that article. That’s the MO of the tortoise writer, isn’t it — to make a piece look like it was written by a hare, even if you need hours and hours to do it. It’s kind of sad how often I repeat the “slow and steady” thing to myself.

    On the other hand, if slow and steady is the tradeoff for never getting so blocked that I can’t write something at all, I’ll take it. And it’s taught me not to procrastinate, which is a good virtue to list when you’re keeping track.

    • sonyachung Says:

      I love that way of looking at it, LP — keeping the flow steady, even if slow. It’s hard to reconcile with “ambition” and the light-speed of the writing trade these days. We need to remind one another.

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