There are neurotics such and you and me and the guy in the back seat of the bus who keeps blowing his nose. And then there are the Great Neurotics. From all walks of life they come, these Great Neurotics, from history and fiction and the entertainment arts they emerge, marching together, out of step, absorbed in their own thoughts, and in the way the breeze plays through their hair.
Here is today’s entry in this dubious gallery:
The English writer (“Chronicles of Barsetshire”) constantly fretted about his word production. “According to the circumstances of the time . . . I have allotted myself so many pages a week,” he once wrote. “The average number has been about 40. It has been placed as low as 20, and has risen to 112. And as a page is an ambiguous term, my page has been made to contain 250 words; and as words, if not watched, will have a tendency to straggle, I have had every word counted as I went.” Trollope worked with a pocket watch placed before him on his desk; he strove to write 250 words every 15 minutes.