Scandalous thoughts on writing from a favored fellow journalist, the revolutionary Camille Desmoulins, as imagined by Hilary Mantel in A Place of Greater Safety:
When it was time to write, and he took his pen in his hand,
he never thought of consequences; he thought of style.
I wonder why I ever bothered with sex, he thought;
there’s nothing in this breathing world so gratifying as an artfully placed semicolon. Once paper and ink were to hand,
it was useless to appeal to his better nature,
to tell him he was wrecking reputations and ruining people’s lives.
A kind of sweet venom flowed through his veins,
smoother than the finest cognac, quicker to make the head spin.
And, just as some people crave opium,
he craves the opportunity to exercise his fine art of mockery, vituperation and abuse; laudanum might quieten the senses, but
a good editorial puts a catch in the throat and a skip in the heartbeat.
Writing’s like running downhill; can’t stop if you want to.
Mais oui. I could not agree more! Thank you, Monsieur Desmoulins, for your contribution to the French Republic and your salacious love of our craft.
Vive la France! Happy Bastille Day, mes amis.