“The start of the day was lost in remote time. That we had shot some scenes in Acapulco that morning, with Paul Lukas and Ursula Andress, seemed impossible. He had no idea how far away that was.”—Javier Marias, Bad Nature, Or With Elvis in Mexico
William Stafford "Writing and Literature: Some Opinions"
I don’t think there has been a better way of explaining the entire world of writing, with all its characters and boulevards. Well, Stafford doesn’t include the Boulevard of Broken Dreams or the character known as The Monkey on Your Back.
But I love how Stafford calls an editor a friend. And I love how Richard Powers titled his most recent novel “Generosity: An Enhancement,” picking up on Stafford’s idea, whether he intended to or not.
Writing and Literature: Some Opinions
By William Stafford, from Writing the Australian Crawl
A writer is a person who enters into sustained relations with the language for experiment and experience not available in any other way.
An editor is a friend who helps keep a writer from publishing what should not be published.
A reader is a person who picks up signals and enters a world in language under the guidance of an earlier entry made by a writer.
Literature is not a picture of life, but is a separate experience with its own kind of flow and enhancement.
Anyone enters that world of writing or literature by writing or reading, venturing forward part by part, unpredictable part by unpredictable part.
So flowing and ongoing in this way of entry that one could become a writer merely by little additions to ordinary language – adding a paragraph to each letter you normally write could let you by little steps into increments of correspondence and induct you into a writing career.
The literary world is a community in that one interchanges with others naturally and becomes an insider, not by deals and stealth, but by a natural engagement with the ongoing work of other writers, editors, and publishers.
What one has written is not to be defended or valued, but abandoned: others must decide significance and value.