And there was, in those Ipswich years, for me at least, a raw educational component; though I used to score well in academic tests, I seemed to know very little of how the world worked and was truly grateful for instruction, whether it was how to stroke a backhand, mix a martini, use a wallpaper steamer, or do the Twist. My wife, too, seemed willing to learn. Old as we must have looked to our children, we were still taking lessons, in how to be grown-up.
Most writers begin with accounts of their first home, their family, and the town, often from quite a hostile point of view-love/hate, let's say. In a way, this stepping outside, in an attempt to judge enough to create a duplicate of it, makes you an outsider. . . . I think it's healthy for a writer to feel like an outsider. If you feel like an insider you get committed to a partisan view, you begin to defend interests, so you wind up not really empathizing with all mankind.
It skims in through the eye, and by means of the utterly delicate retina hurls shadows like insect legs inward for translation. Then an immense space opens up in silence and an endlessly fecund sub-universe the writer descends, and asks the reader to descend after him, not merely to gain instructions but also to experience delight, the delight of mind freed from matter and exultant in the strength it has stolen from matter.
Professionalism in art has this difficulty: To be professional is to be dependable, to be dependable is to be predictable, and predictability is esthetically boring - an anti-virtue in a field where we hope to be astonished and startled and at some deep level refreshed.
You imagine a reader and try to keep the reader interested. That's storytelling. You also hope to reward the reader with a sense of a completed design, that somebody is in charge, and that while life is pointless, the book isn't pointless. The author knows where he is going. That's form.
Dream golf is simply golf played on another course. We chip from glass tables onto moving stairways; we swing in a straightjacket, through masses of cobweb, and awaken not with any sense of unjust hazard but only with a regret that the round can never be completed, and that one of our phantasmal companions has kept the scorecard.
I think people do look to writers to tell the truth in a way that nobody else quite will, not politicians or ministers or sociologists. A writer's job, is to, by way of fiction, somehow describe the way we live. And to me, this seems an important task, very worth doing, and I think also, to the reading public, it seems, even though they might not articulate it, it seems to them something worth doing also.