In his novel, The Kitchen Man, Wood expands the simile as follows: “Ready to walk out the door you stop one last time at the mirror, just to be sure they’re going to regret what they walked out on. Well, maybe the belt is wrong, you think, throwing it on the bed, pulling out another. No, these old shoes won’t do, too dowdy. After an hour, you’re stripped to your socks and in tears, absolutely sure now that you are the perfect mess they said you were. And so your manuscript will be if you don’t fight every urge to better every sentence.”
Long, Robert Emmet. "James's Washington Square : The Hawthorne Relation ". Washington Square is indebted to an anecdote told to James by Fanny Kemble and to Balzac's Eugenie Grandet . Long contends that it was because James's imagination was moral, in the tradition of Hawthorne, that he improves upon Balzac's tale. "While [James] admired Balzac's skill, he placed himself in another tradition - with novelists such as [George] Eliot and Hawthorne - who 'care for moral questions' and 'are haunted by a moral ideal.'" The New England Quarterly 46, 4 (Dec. 1973) pp 573-90 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].