If, by the virtue of charity or the circumstance of desperation, you ever chance to spend a little time around a Substance-recovery halfway facility like Enfield MA's state-funded Ennet House, you will acquire many exotic new facts [...] That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do. Then that most nonaddicted adult civilians have already absorbed and accepted this fact, often rather early on [...] That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused [...] That purposeful sleep-deprivation can also be an abusable escape. That gambling can be an abusable escape, too and work, shopping and shoplifting and sex and abstention and masturbation and food and exercise and meditation/prayer [...] That loneliness is not a function of solitude [...] That if enough people in a silent room are drinking coffee it is possible to make out the sound of steam coming off the coffee. That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt [...] That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness [...] That the effects of too many cups of coffee are in no way pleasant or intoxicating [...] That if you do something nice for somebody in secret, anonymously, without letting the person you did it for know it was you or anybody else know what it was you did or in any way or form trying to get credit for it, it's almost its own form of intoxicating buzz.That anonymous generosity, too, can be abused [...]That it is permissible to want [...]That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be angels.
David Foster Wallace
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel. If the people the writer is making talk of old masters; of music; of modern painting; of letters; or of science then they should talk of those subjects in the novel. If they do not talk of these subjects and the writer makes them talk of them he is a faker and if he talks about them himself to show how much he knows then he is showing off. No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration and the Baroque is over. For a writer to put his own intellectual musings, which he might sell for a low price as essays, into the mouths of artificially constructed characters which are more remunerative when issued as people in a novel is good economics, perhaps, but does not make literature. People in a novel, not skillfully constructed characters, must be projected from the writer’s assimilated experience, from his knowledge, from his head, from his heart and from all there is of him. If he ever has luck as well as seriousness and gets them out entire they will have more than one dimension and they will last a long time. A good writer should know as near everything as possible. Naturally he will not. A great enough writer seems to be born with knowledge. But he really is not; he has only been born with the ability to learn in a quicker ratio to the passage of time than other men and without conscious application and with an intelligence to accept or reject what is already presented as knowledge. There are some things which cannot be learned quickly and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave. Every novel which is truly written contributes to the total of knowledge which is there at the disposal of the next writer who comes, but the next writer must pay, always, a certain nominal percentage in experience to be able to understand and assimilate what is available as his birthright and what he must, in turn, take his departure from. If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. A writer who appreciates the seriousness of writing so little that he is anxious to make people see he is formally educated, cultured or well-bred is merely a popinjay. And this too remember; a serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.
Ernest Hemingway
He pulled out a couple of mugs while she warmed up the cocoa. He chuckled and she turned to see what was funny and nearly had a heart attack.He was holding one hot pink and white mug while reading it, the other sitting on the counter: Men should be like my curtains, easy to pull and well hung.Her lips parted, she had to have turned cherry red and she turned away quickly before she burned the cocoa. Now what? Explain that a friend had given them to her when her last boyfriend and she had parted company? Or just ignore the fact that they were drinking out of those cups while she was having hot cocoa with him and pretend she wasn’t embarrassed to the tip of her toes?He brought the mugs over. Anything else?There’s a can of whipped cream in the fridge, if you want some.Real cream, he said, eyeing the can. Looks good. He gave it to her and he lifted the mugs.She shook up the can and pointed it at the right mug, pushed the nozzle and the cream dripped and fizzled. Not to be thwarted, she shook it again, hoping that it wasn’t defective. And then the whipped cream swirled around with perfect ridges in a twirl on top with a cute little pointy peak. Perfect.Then she turned to the other mug, shook the can again and pushed the nozzle. It was working great until halfway through her little mountain of whipped cream twirling to perfection, when the nozzle malfunctioned again and spewed whipped cream everywhere.In horror, she stopped what she was doing and stared at the white cream splattered all over Allan’s chest and a few that had dotted his boxer briefs. Her mouth agape, she glanced up at him.His eyes sparkled with mirth and he laughed.Oh, oh, let me get something to wipe it up, she said, belatedly and set the can of whipped cream on the counter.She grabbed some paper towels and wetted them, then rushed back to wipe the mess up. He was still holding onto both hot pink mugs of cocoa. She had every intention of taking one of the mugs and letting him clean himself, but he just moved his arms apart as if to say she made the mess, she could wash it up.She thought she was going to die. Yes, he was totally hot. And yes, she’d fantasized about making love to him—since they were both unattached and she truly liked him. But in her wildest dreams she would never have imagined making him cocoa in the middle of the night in her duplex while he stood in sexy silk briefs, not baggy, but nice and form fitting and then she proceeded to splatter him with whipped cream. All over his tanned chest and those black briefs.
Terry Spear