Author’s note: While working on this piece, I had a dream that I’d been assigned to write a book about snakes. I wonder if there’s any connection.
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“Writing a book,” said Winston Churchill, “is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”
We’ll be skipping over the fun parts here—writing as toy, amusement, and mistress—and going right to the master and tyrant parts. These two are the last steps a writer faces before the real fun of ...