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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Musing about Artists

From Chapter 104 The Fossil Whale

One often hears of writers that rise and swell with their subject, though it may seem but an ordinary one. How, then, with me, writing of this Leviathan?


Musing: I've always seen this chapter as talking about a whale's fossil as a mighty book. Melville writes, "But when Leviathan is the text, the case is altered." This chapter, far from being about a whale's fossil, is about the large and complex texts left behind. The structures writers must meet/exceed/live up to. In this chapter, Melville says, "Fain am I to stagger to this emprise under the weightiest words of the dictionary."

Writing is not difficult, but it is. Finding our voice, then comparing it to the fossils in libraries around the world, is daunting/frightening/impossible. Still, we do it. I've done it. And I'm afraid.

And I have a book coming out.

Moby-Dick has taught me many things, but this most of all: if Melville can be afraid of writing, and complete this book, then I can complete mine too.

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