The first day of my fiction workshop at George Mason University this semester got me thinking about the pressures to “finish” a piece of writing, and a new book I’ve just been delving into, Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, along with an old anecdote about sculptor Alberto Giacometti, helped offer some different perspectives on the process.
Here’s a sample paragraph from the post I wrote about all this at SleuthSayers:
I’ve written elsewhere before—in other blog posts and interviews (so excuse me if you’ve heard it)—about a lesson I took from the work of sculptor Alberto Giacometti and specifically his Women of Venice series. Back when I worked at the North Carolina Museum of Art, we hosted an exhibition that included one of the sculptures (the series as a whole is pictured to the left), and I was fascinated not just by the artwork itself, the texture of it, the existential starkness of it, but also by the story of how Giacometti created the series. As I understood it, all of them were cast from the same mass of clay, clay which Giacometti worked and shaped and reworked and shaped until eventually it reached a form that he found suitable, at which point he called his brother in to make a cast of the “finished” product.
And then he began working and shaping that same clay again.