Those wishing to improve their live journals might well profit from reading Doris Grumbach’s Fifty Days of Solitude. It begins:

In a letter sent to me from Hereford, England, the writer D.M. Thomas explained why he had left his academic appointment at American University in Washington, D.C., so precipitously: “It was a dreadful thing to do-my flight-but I had a sense of being in peril, as a person and as a writer (the same thing)….I knew that if I spent three months being ‘the successful author of The White Hotel‘I would quite likely become that and that only. I have to become the unsuccessful writer of the blank page before me.”
Each ounce of acknowledgement of one’s worth, however little, by the outside world, each endorsement of what I have become (no matter how insignificant), puts me in danger.

Is it a curse of every middlebrow to imagine that he has a book inside of him? Yesterday a friend and fellow artist was urging me to write one, and the temptation is great, but the dream of writing is far from the reality. At least I no longer suffer from the dream of “having written”, which is much more fatal as far as I believe.

Grumbach faces down the danger of the world’s endorsement by cutting herself off from it, a delicious prospect, but one that doesn’t feel so available to me now.


  1. Is it a curse of every middlebrow to imagine that he has a book inside of him?

    Yes. Although for the less ambitious, it’s a New Yorker short story.

    If not, God would never have created rejection letters.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.