too many words by laura lemay


I wish I had time to read The New Yorker every week, because I usually discover terrific essays and articles that have appeared in it months and months after the issue has come and gone. Fortunately, TNY is online, so when someone tells me that “you should read that fabulous article that was in the new yorker a few months back about organic sheep’s milk cheesemaking methods in Northern Vermont…” (or whatever) usually I can find it.

Here’s an article from the June 14 and 21st issues of this year, called Blocked, by June Acocella, about the phenomenon of writer’s block (I can’t remember who told me to go find it, I’m sorry if it was you) .

This article is a great read, even if you aren’t a writer (of course I like it for obvious reasons). It not only discusses the strange psychological phenomenon of writer’s block itself, but also delves into the other reasons that writers stop writing: depression, alcoholism, and my own personal favourite: too much success.

It also includes many of the classic stories of writers who, frustratingly, seemed to do so well and then…didn’t: F Scott Fitzgerald is here, who wrote some of the best fiction of the twentieth century and then drank himself to death; Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and then nothing else for the rest of her life (so far); and Jeffrey Eugenides, who wrote the Virgin Suicides and Middlesex — nine years apart, because he needed some distance and anonymity from the huge success of the first novel to write the second.

Check it out. And if you do find that cheesemaking article, I’d like to know about it.