A Life In The Day Of A Writer by Tess Slesinger, 1936
The magic trick:
Perfectly capturing the agony a writer feels when an evening appointment is tacked on to an afternoon of blocked creativity
“A Life In The Day Of A Writer” deals in specifics. As such, I’m not sure it will appeal to the majority of readers. If it does speak to you, though, as it spoke to me, I’m sure it will win your heart.
Slesinger positively nails the experience of writer’s block getting punctuated with an evening dinner party. The pressure ratchets up. The weight of unrealized writing becomes unbearable. The anger. The stress. The idea of a dinner party seems absurd. The thought of having to be “on,” making pleasant conversation with people when your mind is still lost in the frustrations of the afternoon is overwhelming. That’s a pain I know very well, as I’m sure many people do. The whole experience is here in this story, perfectly laid out. And that’s quite a trick on Slesinger’s part.
Still, when you have accepted an invitation to a party for the afternoon, you have that to think about, to hold over your typewriter’s head, you can think of how you will lock it up at half-past four and shave and shower and go out with a collar and a tie around your neck to show people that you can look, talk, drink, like any of them, like the worst of them. But a party! Christ, the faces, the crowds of white faces (like the white keys of the typewriter I had before you, my fine Underwood), and worst of all, the voices…. The party became abnormally enlarged in his mind, as though it would take every ounce of ingenious conniving – not to speak of courage! – to get to it at all; and as he fell face downward on his typewrite, he gave more thought to the party than even the party’s host was likely to do, Freddie, whoever the devil “Freddie” was…