Nearly every morning, a certain woman in our community comes running out of her house with her face white and her overcoat flapping wildly. She cries out, "Emergency, emergency," and one of us runs to her and holds her until her fears are calmed. We know she is making it up; nothing is has really happened to her. But we understand, because there is hardly one of us who has no been moved at some time to do just what she has done, and every time, it has taken all our strength, and even the strength of our friends and families, too, to keep us quiet.
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The fact that he does not tell me the truth all the time makes me not sure of his truth at certain times, and then I work to figure out for myself if what he is telling me is the truth or not, and sometimes I can figure out that it's not the truth and sometimes I don't know and never know, and sometimes just because he says it to me over and over again I am convinced it is the truth because I don't believe he would repeat a lie so often. Maybe the truth does not matter, but I want to know it if only so that I can come to some conclusions about such questions as: whether he is angry at me or not; if he is, then how angry; whether he still loves her or not; if he does, then how much; whether he loves me or not; how much; how capable he is of deceiving me in the act and after the act in the telling.
We all have an ongoing narrative inside our heads, the narrative that is spoken aloud if a friend asks a question. That narrative feels deeply natural to me. We also hang on to scraps of dialogue. Our memories don't usually serve us up whole scenes complete with dialogue. So I suppose I'm saying that I like to work from what a character is likely to remember, from a more interior place.
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What was happening to them was that every bad time produced a bad feeling that in turn produced several more bad times and several more bad feelings, so that their life together became crowded with bad times and bad feelings, so crowded that almost nothing else could grow in that dark field. But then she had a feeling of peace one morning that lingered from the evening before spent sewing while he sat reading in the next room. And a day or two later, she had a feeling of contentment that lingered in the morning from the evening before when he kept her company in the kitchen while she washed the dinner dishes. If the good times increased, she thought, each good time might produce a good feeling that would in turn produce several more good times that would produce several more good feelings. What she meant was that the good times might multiply perhaps as rapidly as the square of the square, or perhaps more rapidly, like mice, or like mushrooms springing up overnight from the scattered spore of a parent mushroom which in turn had sprung up overnight with a crowd of others from the scattered spore of a parent, until her life with him with be so crowded with good times that the good times might crowd out the bad as the bad times had by now almost crowded out the good.
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Heart weeps. Head tries to help heart. Head tells heart how it is, again: You will lose the ones you love. They will all go. But even the earth will go, someday. Heart feels better, then. But the words of head do not remain long in the ears of heart. Heart is so new to this. I want them back, says heart. Head is all heart has. Help, head. Help heart.
I had had a feeling of freedom because of the sudden change in my life. By comparison to what had come before, I felt immensely free. But then, once I became used to that freedom, even small tasks became more difficult. I placed constraints on myself, and filled the hours of the day. Or perhaps it was even more complicated than that. Sometimes I did exactly what I wanted to do all day-I lay on the sofa and read a book, or I typed up an old diary-and then the most terrifying sort of despair would descend on me: the very freedom I was enjoying seemed to say that what I did in my day was arbitrary, and that therefore my whole life and how I spent it was arbitrary.
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To observe the world carefully, to write a lot and often, on a schedule if necessary, to use the dictionary a lot, to look up word origins, to analyze closely the work of writers you admire, to read not only contemporaries but writers of the past, to learn at least one foreign language, to live an interesting life outside of writing.
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You know the pain is part of the whole thing. And it isn't that you can say afterwards the pleasure was greater than the pain and that's why you would do it again. That has nothing to do with it. You can't measure it, because the pain comes after and it lasts longer. So the question really is, Why doesn't that pain make you say, I won't do it again? When the pain is so bad that you have to say that, but you don't.
The translator ... Peculiar outcast, ghost in the world of literature, recreating in another form something already created, creating and not creating, writing words that are his own and not his own, writing a work not original to him, composing with utmost pains and without recognition of his pains or the fact that the composition really is his own.
I attempt all day, at work, not to think about what lies ahead, but this costs me so much effort that there is nothing left for my work. I handle telephone calls so badly that after a while the switchboard operator refuses to connect me. So I had better say to myself, Go ahead and polish the silverware beautifully, then lay it out ready on the sideboard and be done with it. Because I polish it in my mind all day long""this is what torments me (and doesn't clean the silver).
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Maybe the truth does not matter, but I want to know it if only so that I can come to some conclusions about such questions as: whether he is angry with me or not; if he is, then how angry; whether he still loves me or not; if he does, then how much; whether he loves me or not; how much; how capable he is of deceiving me in the act and after the act in the telling.
The moment when a limit is reached, when there is nothing ahead but darkness: something comes in to help that is not real. Another way all this is like madness: a mad person not helped out of his trouble by anything real begins to trust what is not real because it helps him and he needs it because real things continue not to help him.
I don't believe, in the end, that there is any such thing as no style. Even a very neutral, plain style, one that doesn't use colloquialisms, lyrical flourishes, heavy supplies of metaphor, etc., is a style, and it becomes a writer's characteristic style just as much as a thicker, richer deployment of idiom and vocabulary.
We feel an affinity with a certain thinker because we agree with him; or because he shows us what we were already thinking; or because he shows us in a more articulate form what we were already thinking; or because he shows us what we were on the point of thinking; or what we would sooner or later have thought; or what we would have thought much later if we hadn't read it now; or what we would have been likely to think but never would have thought if we hadn't read it now; or what we would have liked to think but never would have thought if we hadn't read it now.