Jump to content, Jump to navigation.

Amber Paulen

On Composition

Much of my time lately has been taken up reading other things besides fiction, so when I do come to my book, late at night, my brain is full of words and falls asleep with Virginia Woolf’s wordy passages. But I’ve been enjoying Orlando, the mock biography, when I can keep my eyes open long enough.

Here’s one of those sentences that thrives in its own rules and rights:

Anyone moderately familiar with the rigours of composition will not need to be told the story in detail; how he wrote and it seemed good; read and it seemed vile; corrected and tore up; cut out; put in; was in ecstasy; in despair; had his good nights and bad mornings; snatched at ideas and lost them; saw his book plain before him and it vanished; acted his people’s parts as he ate; mouthed them as he walked; now cried; now laughed; vacillated between this style and that; now preferred the heroic and pompous; next the plain and simple; now the vales of Tempe; then the fields of Kent or Cornwall; and could not decide whether he was the divinest genius or the greatest fool in the world. —Virginia Woolf, Orlando


·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·