I recently played a concert with the Elgin Community College jazz band (trumpet). One of the tunes was Miles Davis’ version of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and I transcribed his beautiful solo. As I was doing that, I started thinking about creating art, in this case the difference between playing an instrument and writing. I’ve been playing for some fifty years. I came to a realization that astounds me, and I wondered why I had never thought about it before.
The difference has to do with revisions. Under normal conditions (without springtails!), it takes me about six months to write a Spencer Manning mystery. That involves any number of revisions and editing rounds. Every author faces that and has that luxury. I say ‘luxury’ because we have the opportunity to revise what we write—many times—to make it the best we can. Famous authors need that luxury just as much as the rest of us. An example of that is this page from James Joyce’s revisions of Finnegan’s Wake.