Georges Simenon used to write a novel in eight days, producing between six thousand and eight thousand words a day. He’d start at dawn each day and be done by 10.30am, drenched in sweat. In his younger days, it’s said, he’d throw up after completing his shift. One of my favourite stories about Michael Moorcock is that he’d start a book on a Monday when the bill from Harrods came in and deliver the novel on Friday to get the cheque to pay it.
I cannot imagine what these things are like. I’m a 500-word-a-day novelist. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too late to try it: whether it’d kill me, whether I’d dry up halfway through. Whether it would even be worth it. These things stand like megalithic stones in the landscape of a writer. I know I’m working in their shadows. But I also tell myself: what muscles do you tear and what do you lose when you try it?
Simenon owned wolves. But he had to give them to a zoo after they ate the cat.