More for Henry Miller: the anger

Instructions for writing and life.

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day.Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Miller’s schedule.

If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.

If in fine fettle, write.


Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.


See friends. Read in cafés.

Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.

Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.

Paint if empty or tired.

Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

Perhaps what I would like removed from me is a certain anger, and its roots.

1. You will not be able to survive at that university.
2. You should not go to graduate school.
3. You will not be able to write.
4. You will never get a job.
5. You will not publish.
6. You should not work on teaching.
7. You are not working enough on teaching.
9. You are unemployable and it is a genetic problem, you are too original, what is desired is conventionality.
10. You should not publish things based on your actual research results, as what you actually think will not be acceptable.
9. Research is procrastination: just write based on what you already know, or already know to be acceptable.
10. Why do you feel we have closed all doors and you should do something else? How can you betray us in this way? Write. But again: do not do research, just write.
11. You do not know what you want. Why do you not know what you want?

All I ever wanted was a research and writing job and all I ever heard was that these were bad jobs and also impossible, and that I could not do them, but then again that I should not do anything else. This is why I have felt for so long that all doors were closed and I should just die. Really, though, I have a murderous rage against those who said the eleven things above so often, and with such insistent passion. It was so important to their survival, or at least their happiness, to be able to say these things to me.

People in terrible pain. I have always been willing to die so they could feel better, and I was already too wounded to simply stand up and leave. Well. The time I got myself together to do it, I called in a Reeducator for support, and we know how that went.

Qué tragedia. I am teaching Blood Wedding, where people do not entirely restrain themselves in the end and actually die of their tragic impasses, and it is interesting to think about the shadows of this I have seen in real life. I am also chair of Committee A, AAUP locally, and it means I hear more than usual about certain things that are done. People are put through amazing amounts of pain.


I, meanwhile, understand more things now, and feel better. It is interesting to note that in psychotherapy, apparently, people go in and are hostile and unreasonable and egotistical, and they learn to say sensible things, and then their mission is accomplished. For this reason I go in and hasten to show I can already say sensible things, in hopes that with that out of the way I can do deep work. What happens, though, is that the therapist tries to lead toward the trivial. Perhaps I would have better luck if I attacked the therapist, the way people do on In Treatment.



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