The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

to the swift

A cropped greyscale image of a 19th-century engraving of two women, the one of interest winding yarn on a swift

Creative concentration is a mental process which may be likened to the winding of a ball of wool. As the loose skein is converted into a tight ball the winding goes faster and faster, but if the wool is snapped in the middle it must be rejoined, and the process has to begin, slowly at first, all over again. Continuity of concentration means everything to a writer. Its gathering intensity often enables him to do at least twice as much in the last hour of a morning as he did during the first.

For this reason the writer owes it to himself, and to the “mood” (i.e. state of concentration) which he has attained by self-discipline, to institute rules that others should be asked to keep. […] Admittedly, the establishment of such rules is a matter of household routine, and is much easier for some authors than others. It can be attained more readily by men than by women, not only because the tradition still lingers that a man’s work is somehow more sacred than a woman’s, but because a woman, even though she be the bread-winner, is regarded as the natural consultant in domestic worries by her staff if she has one, and by her family if she has not. Much training is required before the interrupter who wants to tell her that the bathroom pipe has burst, or the milk has not come, learns to deal with these disasters by his or her own resourcefulness.

—Vera Brittain (On Becoming a Writer, p. 56)

Illustration of a sour-faced woman triumphantly entangling a placid dimwit with yarn.


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