in the DFW archives

FP_MILEY_DFWBOOK_CO_002Mike Miley at The Smart Set:

To give you an idea of how concerned Wallace was about being unable to live up to the image of “DFW,” one of his books in the HRC library is On Writer’s Block. That’s not a typo: David Foster Wallace, author of the 600,000-word maximalist opus Infinite Jest, owned a book about overcoming writer’s block. Several of his letters to Don DeLillo express his envy of writers like William T. Vollmann and Joyce Carol Oates, who had the ability to crank out a new novel what seemed like every six months while Wallace struggled to produce a novel each decade. These letters even pepper DeLillo with amateurish questions such as “Do you have like a daily writing routine?” And this was after he’d published Infinite Jest!

Wallace relays his struggle to produce work in a consistent and disciplined manner in a letter to DeLillo: “… it’s frustrating to feel that I’m getting mature and more disciplined in some areas of adult life and yet still seem a slave to my moods and emotions when it comes to work.” Later in the same letter, Wallace even relates the shame of how private and isolating this struggle actually is when he describes the “sad manically charming and loquacious letters” he receives “from young writers who struggle” with writer’s block “and tell me that they regard me as some paragon of steady drive and discipline, which letters I try to answer politely but they make me feel fucked-up and Unknown.”

more here.