The flimsy little protestations that mark the front gate of every novel, the solemn statements that any resemblance to real persons living or dead is entirely coincidental, are fraudulent every time. A writer has no other material to make his people from than the people of his experience ... The only thing the writer can do is to recombine parts, suppress some characterisitics and emphasize others, put two or three people into one fictional character, and pray the real-life prototypes won't sue.
If you took the world away and just left the elctricity, it would look like the most exquisite filigree ever made - a ball of twinkling silver lines with the occasional coruscating spike of a satellite beam. Even the dark areas would glow with radar and commercial radio waves. It could be the nervous system of a great beast.
We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the intolerable compliment. Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child he will take endless trouble and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.
Here is a lesson in creative writing.First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.And I realize some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I'm kidding.For instance, join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I'm kidding.We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding.If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.