‘work in progress’

“The description of one’s current writing as ‘work in progress’ can be a little depressing. One reason lies in the evocation of the mountain still to climb, of course, but another, more subversive reason is that the notion of progress seems mockingly inaccurate to describe the experience of writing, which is seldom so anticipatory. Typically, one proceeds by retreating, first from the ignorant certainty that generates a hypothesis, then to a better informed agnosticism until, if all goes well, in an ecstasy of interrogation, one achieves full-blown skepticism. Paranoia is an occupational disease in this profession: there is always a prior plot, some yet-unexposed premise structuring a deceptively self-evident meaning. One advances backward into irony, the goal being finally to pose a basic question that turns over the ground of previous convictions.”

Myra Jehlen, Readings at the Edge of Literature (2002), p. 164.

Courtesy Molly Farrell, in honor of our Women’s Writing Club.

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One thought on “‘work in progress’

  1. I’m glad you like the quote too! I go back to it so often. Our writing club is such a wonderful and helpful thing!

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