Can happy writers produce great art?
I must admit, I'm a skeptic. I like my writers skirting at the edge of life. I like them alcoholic and drug-ridden, depressed and suicidal. As if the page is the only thing that is keeping them alive.
I don't believe in the happy-writer.
I am certain, that if I was happy, I wouldn't write. I'd be too busy living life.
- But I do not feel that a writer's responsibility can be discharged in this way. I do not think, if one is a writer, that one escapes it by trying to become something else. One does not become something else: one becomes nothing. And what is crucial hiere is that the writer, whoever unwillingly, always somewher, knows this. There is no structure he can build strong enough to keep out this self-knowledge. What has happened, however, time and time again, is that the fantasy structure the writer builds in order to escape his central responsiblity operates not as his fortress, but his prison and he perishes within it.
- The charge has often been made against American writers that they do not describe society, and have no interest in it. They only describe individuals in opposition to it, or isolated from it.
- Writers are said to be extremely egotistical and demanding, and they are indeed, but that does not distinguish them from anyone else. What distinguishes them is what James once described as a kind of "holy stupidity." The writer's greed is appalling. He wants or seems to want, everything and practically everybody; in another sense, and at the same time, he needsno one at all; and families, friend, and lovers find this extremely hard to take.