Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
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- No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.
- If the most significant characteristic of man is the complex of biological needs he shares with all members of his species, then the best lives for the writer to observe are those in which the role of natural necessity is clearest, namely, the lives of the very poor.
- Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.
- Slavery is so intolerable a condition that the slave can hardly escape deluding himself into thinking that he is choosing to obey his master’s commands when, in fact, he is obliged to. Most slaves of habit suffer from this delusion and so do some writers, enslaved by an all too personal style.
- The critical opinions of a writer should always be taken with a large grain of salt. For the most part, they are manifestations of his debate with himself as to what he should do next and what he should avoid.
- It takes little talent to see clearly what lies under one’s nose, a good deal of it to know in which direction to point that organ.