A Case for being moody
In 1940, the iconic writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald died suddenly of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 44. At the time of his death, Fitzgerald was working on a manuscript entitled The Love of the Last Tycoon. Unfortunately, Fitzgerald didn’t get to finish the novel and it remains, in its published form, an incomplete work.
Despite this, Fitzgerald’s friend, the literary critic Edmund Wilson, published the unwritten part of the novel’s story along with the author’s plans for the rest of the plot and notes he had made on the already written work.
An insight into the editorial mind of one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest writers is, of course, fascinating and inspiring; but one note seems to stand out the most. At the top of the last draft of the first chapter, Fitzgerald writes: ‘Rewrite from mood. Has become stifled with rewriting. Don’t look [at previous draft]. Rewrite from mood.’
Like most great artists, Fitzgerald was a perfectionist and he knew the editing process well; however, even as a mature writer he was still coming up with creative solutions to stifling problems.
It’s easy for anyone involved in the creative process to forget their impetus, to get bogged down in reworking, to lose sight of that passionate drive that inspired the creation in the first place. Sometimes, true editing and reworking comes not from a meticulous attention to detail, but from a return to the place where they started.
Fitzgerald’s editing solution does not have to apply to writing – it could be utilised by anyone struggling to overcome creative block. It simply reminds us that the creative process is not a mechanical or regimented process of the brain – but more often a visceral matter of mood.
Published: June 10th, 2014