from her essay "Thinking about a Reader" in Bringing the Devil to His Knees, 2001
...even the most reclusive minded of writers might consider the late-Victorian observation by George Saintsbury that 'it is the first duty of a novelist to let himself be read."
When I came across those words, quoted in some random review a while back, they took me by surprise, like an uncomfortable reminder of a truth stuffed way back in the closet: that writing is a solitary practice that has a sociable destiny. Gertrude Stein put it succinctly: "I write for myself, and strangers." Safe behind the closed door of our study or bedroom or converted garage, we are (however subliminally) opening another kind of door - toward an implied presence, the distant yet oddly intimate stranger.
Labels: writing craft