Day 115: Susan Sontag

Trenchant advice to writers:

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I’m often asked if there is something I think writers ought to do, and recently in an interview I heard myself say: “Several things. Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world."

... The primary task of a writer is to write well. (And to go on writing well. Neither to burn out nor to sell out.)

... The greatest offense now, in matters both of the arts and of culture generally, not to mention political life, is to seem to be upholding some better, more exigent standard, which is attacked, both from the left and the right, as either naïve or (a new banner for the philistines) “elitist.”

... A novel is a world with borders. For there to be completeness, unity, coherence, there must be borders. Everything is relevant in the journey we take within those borders. One could describe the story’s end as a point of magical convergence for the shifting preparatory views: a fixed position from which the reader sees how initially disparate things finally belong together.

From Sontag's posthumous collection At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches.