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Your Clockwork Orange Moment

Your Clockwork Orange Moment
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The novelist Anthony Burgess had his most creative spurt when he thought he had a year to live. Here’s to 2024 being your Clockwork Orange moment.

In the late 1950s, the author Anthony Burgess was a penniless teacher in Brunei. One day, while teaching, he collapsed onto the floor. A doctor soon gave the terrible news: an inoperable brain tumor. He had maybe a year to live.

Thus began the creative birth of Burgess. Worried about providing for his soon-to-be-widow, he began a ferocious period of writing from his hospital bed. Over the course of a year, he claims to have written five and a half novels, including A Clockwork Orange, which would go on to be one of the seminal works of the 20th century.

It was the perfect mix: the ultimate deadline, caring deeply about another person, brimming with artistry but realizing he also needed to sell books.

Luckily for Burgess, the doctor was mistaken. He would live another 33 years as one of the most prolific writers in the world.

Over at Brazen, we are planning for 2024 to be our Clockwork Orange moment. There’s no time like the present to push ourselves to find the biggest and best things we’ve ever done. Hopefully, we’ll do the same in 2025.

Here’s to all our subscribers living this year like it’s their last and doing everything they thought they might be capable of “someday.”

(Hat tip to Farah Halime for this inspirational story).

Please get in touch this year. We’d love to hear from you.


This is WHALE HUNTING, a newsletter delving into the secret worlds of money and power that we became obsessed with during our multi-year investigation into the globe-sprawling 1MDB scandal. That project changed our entire worldview. We wrote a book about it. We were long-time reporters for the Wall Street Journal before setting off on our own to create Project Brazen, a journalism studio and production company. We're creating books, podcasts and documentaries, and we'll share behind-the-scenes insights into the characters and stories we find along the way.

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