Why the desire to write a book?

Having been reminded that Wilde died in his forties, I recalled Kafka had died in his forties (thirties), and Thoreau had died in his forties, and Whitman had lived a long life, and Hemingway had died in his early sixties, and Faulkner in his sixties, and Woolf in her forties or fifties, and de Maupassant in his forties, and I “simply could not imagine another forty years of not being Thoreau,” was how I absurdly put it … and Jane Austen in her forties, and Flaubert almost sixty… “the cog of My Life having failed to meet the cog or gear of Life in General,” was how I put it, (Hart Crane I believe in his thirties, Stephen Crane is late twenties, Proust and Joyce in their fifties) “the gear of writing having similarly failed to meet The Writing Cog, –” “gear not touching gear nor sprocket chain so that everything moved yet nothing happened,” — and could one possibly envision another forty years of it?” (Certainly one could and it would be fine.)

Why the desire to write a book? It feels more virtuous than simply to “leave something behind you” or Faulkner’s “kilroy was here.” Proust was right that it was to make material and solid the moments of our lives which, no matter how many photographs we may take, passes us by as an apparently unseizable ether. Menelaus, seizing Proteus, is the author trying to crystallize something of his vanishing life, is thought. “Now one might well question the necessity of that,” is thought, “for maybe that, too, is ‘Kilroy was here,’ but it would be better or easier to do that in light of having written one’s book.”

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