Hard deskwork

I take some comfort in this considering my own ‘creative process’ in trying to write sermons.

[At the library t]he way hard deskwork really goes is in jagged little fits and starts, brief intervals of concentration alternated with frequent trips to the men’s room, the drinking fountain, the vending machine, constant visits to the pencil sharpener, phone calls you suddenly feel are imperative to make, rapt intervals of seeing what kinds of shapes you can bend a paperclip into.  This is because sitting still and concentrating on just one task for an extended length of time is, as a practical matter, impossible.  If you said, “I spent the whole night in the library, working on some sociology paper,” you really meant that you’d spent between two and three hours working on it and the rest of the time fidgeting and sharpening and organizing pencils and doing skin-checks in the men’s room mirror and reading about, say, Durkeim’s theories of suicide.

– David Foster Wallace, The Pale King, 291


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