Friday, May 11, 2012


Elizabeth Harrower is one of Australia's most celebrated writers,  or perhaps I should say "was" one of our top writers. Until this week I had never heard of her. That is because, after writing some highly praised and successful books 40 years ago, she just stopped writing.

There's an interesting interview with her in the Sydney Morning Herald here. The interviewer, Gay Alcorn, presses for an explanation of why Harrower stopped writing after such a successful start to her career, and the 84-year-old cannot or will not explain.

It's not as if she wasn't pushed to resume. She happily talks about people like Nobel Literature Prize winner Patrick White being quite insistent that she should put words on paper. She even shows Alcorn an inscription White wrote in one of his books reading,  ''To Elizabeth, luncher and diner extraordinaire. Sad you don't also WRITE.''

OK, everyone knows where this is going and everyone is thinking, "No, Don, you can't compare your not writing a blog post to a great novelist not writing anything for more than 40 years." True - unless you count that luncher and diner extraordinaire bit.

But it does seem to me that Harrower shows that even wonderfully talented people can go 200 miles-an-hour putting their thoughts and words on paper (or now on screens) and then simply stop. And if it happens to those with great talent, how much easier for the rest of us?

It's almost cold comfort to take a look at my RSL feed and see the blogs to which I have subscribed and how few of them are posting much any more. Chubby Hubby's great food blog is on hiatus; Daniel Negreanu's poker musings have dwindled to a few a year as he substitutes Twitter feeds for the long-form; our almost-neighbor Matthew Evans who does the TV show Gourmet Farmer has reduced his output to a once-a-month trickle. Hey, even cousin Joanne hardly ever bothers telling anyone what's for dinner any more.

I am quite sure all of them have been urged by fans and family and friends to get back to that keyboard and post some more. But none of my favorites seems to have checked out completely, like Elizabeth Harrower who, Alcorn reports, was asked to send some stories to a publication. She declined saying, ''[I] realised I just can't be bothered any more.''

But I think the days of my Dickens-like volumes of posts will only come sporadically and the occasional post is much more likely to be the norm. Still, it's nice to get encouraging comments like the one from Wally and Judy on the last post. It's even nice to have my bride get testy that I am not posting.

Even Sandy is making noises about how I need to do more. But then, she's in no position to talk. After being my favorite Words with Friends friend nearly every day for over a year, she hasn't made a play in more than a week. Maybe she's teaching me how disappointing it is to doubleclick on something you like and find there's not a single new thing there.

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