Writers remember everything, Paul. Especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels, not amnesia. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is that ability to remember the story of every scar.
They know a million tricks, those novelists. Take Doctor Goebbels; that’s how he started out, writing fiction. Appeals to the base lusts that hide in everyone no matter how respectable on the surface. Yes, the novelist knows humanity, how worthless they are, ruled by their testicles, swayed by cowardice, selling out every cause because of their greed — all he’s got to do is thump on the drum, and there’s his response. And he laughing, of course, behind his hand at the effect he gets.
Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person. It’s like actors, who try so pathetically not to look in mirrors. Who lean backward trying — only to see their faces in the reflecting chandeliers.
When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.
The writer’s joy is the thought that can become emotion, the emotion that can wholly become a thought.
The final lesson a writer learns is that everything can nourish the writer. The dictionary, a new word, a voyage, an encounter, a talk on the street, a book, a phrase heard.
That is how you get to be a writer, incidentally: you feel somehow marginal, somehow slightly off-balance all the time.