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In my opinion, if I could write all my work again, I am convinced that I would do it better, which is the healthiest condition for an artist.
That’s why he keeps on working, trying again; he believes each time that this time he will do it, bring it off. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. He don’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.
He spent a little more than a year as a special student at the state university, Ole Miss, and later worked as postmaster at the university station until he was fired for reading on the job.
Encouraged by Sherwood Anderson, he wrote This conversation took place in New York City, early in 1956. Faulkner, you were saying a while ago that you don’t like interviews.
Of course he won’t, which is why this condition is healthy. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.
Once he did it, once he matched the work to the image, the dream, nothing would remain but to cut his throat, jump off the other side of that pinnacle of perfection into suicide. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can’t, and then tries the short story, which is the most demanding form after poetry. INTERVIEWER Do you mean the writer should be completely ruthless? Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written.
There’s enough social life in the evening, if he wishes to participate, to keep him from being bored; it gives him a certain standing in his society; he has nothing to do because the madam keeps the books; all the inmates of the house are females and would defer to him and call him “sir.” All the bootleggers in the neighborhood would call him “sir.” And he could call the police by their first names.
So the only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost.
Any attempt at a neatly packaged public understanding therefore engenders in the private individual a deep sense of being misunderstood.
Assuage Faulkner’s concern with Vivian Gornick on how to own your story, then revisit Faulkner on the meaning of life, the writer’s responsibility to society, and his little-known children’s book. It takes me hundreds of hours a month to research and compose, and thousands of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy and value in what I do, please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good lunch. Claim yours: is in its twelfth year and because I write primarily about ideas of a timeless character, I have decided to plunge into my vast archive every Wednesday and choose from the thousands of essays one worth resurfacing and resavoring.