Considerably sobered-Power of writing-The tempter-Hungry talent-Work concluded.
RATHER late in the morning I awoke;for a few minutes I lay still,perfectly still;my imagination was considerably sobered;the scenes and situations which had pleased me so much over night appeared to me in a far less captivating guise that morning.I felt languid and almost hopeless-the thought,however,of my situation soon roused me-I must make an effort to improve the posture of my affairs;there was no time to be lost;so I sprang out of bed,breakfasted on bread and water,and then sat down doggedly to write the life of Joseph Sell.
It was a great thing to have formed my plan,and to have arranged the scenes in my head,as I had done on the preceding night.The chief thing requisite at present was the mere mechanical act of committing them to paper.This I did not find at first so easy as I could wish-I wanted mechanical skill;but I persevered,and before evening I had written ten pages.I partook of some bread and water;and before I went to bed that night,I had completed fifteen pages of my life of Joseph Sell.
The next day I resumed my task-I found my power of writing considerably increased;my pen hurried rapidly over the paper-my brain was in a wonderfully teeming state;many scenes and visions which I had not thought of before were evolved,and,as fast as evolved,written down;they seemed to be more pat to my purpose,and more natural to my history,than many others which I had imagined before,and which I made now give place to these newer creations:by about midnight I had added thirty fresh pages to my LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF JOSEPH SELL.
The third day arose-it was dark and dreary out of doors,and I passed it drearily enough within;my brain appeared to have lost much of its former glow,and my pen much of its power;I,however,toiled on,but at midnight had only added seven pages to my history of Joseph Sell.
On the fourth day the sun shone brightly-I arose,and,having breakfasted as usual,I fell to work.My brain was this day wonderfully prolific,and my pen never before or since glided so rapidly over the paper;towards night I began to feel strangely about the back part of my head,and my whole system was extraordinarily affected.I likewise occasionally saw double-a tempter now seemed to be at work within me.
'You had better leave off now for a short space,'said the tempter,'and go out and drink a pint of beer;you have still one shilling left-if you go on at this rate,you will go mad-go out and spend sixpence,you can afford it,more than half your work is done.'I was about to obey the suggestion of the tempter,when the idea struck me that,if I did not complete the work whilst the fit was on me,I should never complete it;so I held on.I am almost afraid to state how many pages I wrote that day of the life of Joseph Sell.
From this time I proceeded in a somewhat more leisurely manner;but,as I drew nearer and nearer to the completion of my task,dreadful fears and despondencies came over me.-It will be too late,thought I;by the time I have finished the work,the bookseller will have been supplied with a tale or a novel.Is it probable that,in a town like this,where talent is so abundant-hungry talent too-a bookseller can advertise for a tale or a novel,without being supplied with half a dozen in twenty-four hours?I may as well fling down my pen-I am writing to no purpose.And these thoughts came over my mind so often,that at last,in utter despair,I flung down the pen.Whereupon the tempter within me said-'And,now you have flung down the pen,you may as well fling yourself out of the window;what remains for you to do?'Why,to take it up again,thought I to myself,for I did not like the latter suggestion at all-and then forthwith I resumed the pen,and wrote with greater vigour than before,from about six o'clock in the evening until I could hardly see,when I rested for a while,when the tempter within me again said,or appeared to say-'All you have been writing is stuff,it will never do-a drug-a mere drug';and methought these last words were uttered in the gruff tones of the big publisher.'A thing merely to be sneezed at,'a voice like that of Taggart added;and then I seemed to hear a sternutation,-as I probably did,for,recovering from a kind of swoon,I found myself shivering with cold.The next day I brought my work to a conclusion.
But the task of revision still remained;for an hour or two I shrank from it,and remained gazing stupidly at the pile of paper which I had written over.I was all but exhausted,and I dreaded,on inspecting the sheets,to find them full of absurdities which I had paid no regard to in the furor of composition.But the task,however trying to my nerves,must be got over;at last,in a kind of desperation,I entered upon it.It was far from an easy one;there were,however,fewer errors and absurdities than I had anticipated.About twelve o'clock at night I had got over the task of revision.'To-morrow for the bookseller,'said I,as my head sank on the pillow.'Oh me!'
George Henry Borrow