I think a real writer simply has to think in other terms. Not, "Will I get in this magazine? Will I get the NEA next year?" but whether or not this work is something he would do if a gun was held to his head and somebody was going to pull the trigger as soon as the last word of the last paragraph of the last page was finished. Now if you can write out of the sense that you're going to die as soon as the work is done, then you will write with urgency, honesty, courage, and without flinching at all, as if this were the last testament in language, the last utterance you could ever make to anybody. If a work is written like that, then I want to read it. If somebody's writing out of that sense, then I'll say, "This is serious. This person is not fooling around. This work is not a means to some other end, the work is not just intended for some silly superficial goal, this work is the writer saying something, because he or she feels that if it isn't said, it will never be said." Those are the writers I want to read. And there are not many twentieth-century writers like that [nor twenty-first century writers either!--SMdM].
Contributed by: shawnmichel