To make a prairie, it takes one clover and a bee,
A clover, and one bee
The reverie alone will do,
If bees are few.
It took me a long time–years and years–to “make the prairie” in Little Century. I had only written short stories before; I wasn’t confident, and I had a life, more or less, to attend to, so I kept going away and coming back to it. But I could never really drop it or put it in a drawer for good. I don’t know whether it was because I had something to say with the story, or because there was something crucial for me to learn in the process. But eventually and with lots of encouragement from various generous people, I made a book out of it, and I’m happy about that. I hope the next book will be a little less painful in the parturition, but of course, we never know. Though I often find Henry James’s work glitteringly opaque, his comments on writing are, as often, heartening: “We work in the dark, we do what we can.” That’s probably true of any human endeavor–of human existence, even–but especially so of the gripping, strenuous reverie that is the making of art.