To me it happens like this: at first I struggle, it’s hard to get started, no beginning seems to me truly convincing; then the story sets off, or bits already written gain power and suddenly find a way of fitting together; then writing becomes a pleasure, the hours are a time of intense enjoyment, the characters no longer leave you, they have a space-time of their own in which they are alive and increasingly vivid, they are inside and outside you, they are solidly in the streets, in the houses, in the places where the event must take shape; the thousand possibilities of the story choose themselves and the choices appear inevitable, definitive. Every day you begin work by rereading to regain energy, and rereading is pleasant, in perfecting, enriching, touching up the past to make it fit with the future of the story. Then this happy period comes to an end. The story is finished. You are no longer rereading the work of the day before but the entire story. You’re afraid. You test it here and there, nothing is written the way you imagined it. The beginning is insignificant, the development seems crude, the linguistic forms inadequate. It’s the moment when one needs help, to find a way to draw the ground on which to place the book, and understand what substance it is truly made of.

–Elena Ferrante as excerpted in Guernica

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