New York Quarterly: In your article about "The Artist as Housewife," you wrote about the willingness to finish things being a good measure as to whether one was an adult or not. Could you talk about this willingness to finish work as a special problem of the artist?
Erica Jong: I went for years without finishing anything. Because of course once you finish something you can be judged. My poems used to go through 360 drafts. I had poems that were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.
New York Quarterly: You can see it very clearly now.
Erica Jong: When I look at some of those drafts, I realize that beyond I certain point I wasn't improving anything, I was just obsessing. I was afraid to take risks.
- an interview with Erica Jong in NYQ, No. 16, 1974 (reprinted in Conversations With Erica Jong)
''Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.''
- J. K. Rowling ("The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination," Harvard Magazine, Nov/Dec 2014)
''The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.''
- John Updike (Assorted Prose)