According to an article in The Christian Science Monitor (3/31/14, p. 36), English Professor Anne Fernald has spent the past decade working on a scholarly edition of Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel “Mrs. Dalloway” — and she’s still working on it.
Mind you, Professor Fernald is not writing the novel. Virginia Woolf already did. All Fernald is doing is annotating the book with extensive footnotes.
When I read that, two thoughts came to mind. First, a decade to annotate — not write, just annotate — a book? Seriously?
Second, is this something the world really needs and that Anne should dedicate more than a decade of her life to? I mean, to put it politely: does anyone care?
I ask because it goes to the deeper problem of being an author today: too many books already in print on virtually every subject under the sun — most that either no one cares about or else have already been done to the death.
When people send me a review copy of their new business book, usually self published because no publisher would take it, I groan.
And invariably, it sounds just like the last dozen I was also sent for review.
Should you and I even bother writing more books, or just quietly slink away to relieve the world of its content pollution?