magic of the written word~a magic many practice unsuccessfully, and
a few master to a degree that exhilarates, enchants, inspires generations
of readers; that is indeed terrifying, if one thinks closely about
it. We are fascinated, we are convinced: we believe what we are
almost more than our own lives. We would give our mind, our soul,
to such writers. And the young writer would give his soul to be
such a writer.
. . .
A writer is of course not just someone who happens to put down letters
and words on a screen or paper~a writer is someone for whom words
are a struggle, a sport, and a passion, for whom writing is a means,
not so much of expression as of frustration and fulfillment, aporia
and liberation; for whom words are both the reflection and the making
of thought and action; for whom words
are the object of a sometimes betraying faith.
. . .
So, what is this craziness, this disease that makes those of us who
have caught it write, no matter what or who stands in our way~the
indifference of publishers, the contempt of editors, the bafflement
of relatives, the condescension of friends? (Well, perhaps the bafflement
of relatives is something of an inducement.) Why are we so willing
to be poor and neglected for a lifetime, and if we are honest with
ourselves, probably for all time, stealing time from actual paying
work for the sake of a series of personally satisfying (if to no one
else) phrases organized according to a logic only we may be cognizant
of, but that satisfies some peculiar warp in our prefrontal lobes,
and may actually provoke or offend other people? What keeps us going?
And what makes us so certain of the value of what