Something To Do in the Afternoon

by John J. Miller on May 20, 2010

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

“Every writer needs something to do in the afternoon,” said Saul Bellow.

I stumbled upon this quote a couple of weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, in Joanne Kaufman’s article on the novelist Scott Turow (of Presumed Innocent fame). What an excellent line. It explains how writers can’t just write. They also need to live in the world, presumably so that they’ll have material to write about. So, in a way, it’s possible to have a good day pecking at a keyboard in front of a computer screen and still have failed as a writer.

I had not seen the quote previously. I Googled it and turned up a single hit: the article I had just read. So I contacted Joanne and asked her source. It was Turow, who apparently heard the line directly from Bellow. I hope we see it start to turn up in more places.

Bellow’s son Adam, by the way, is my book editor.

Here’s a 1973 picture of Saul Bellow, probably taken in the afternoon. I like the look of the dude in the lower-right-hand corner.

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