Monday, June 12, 2006

From "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" by Robert Heinlein, perhaps my favorite writer, a conversation between newlyweds Richard and Gwen:

"Gwen, I have this one nasty habit. Makes me hard to live with. I write."

The dear girl looked puzzled. "So you've told me. But why do you call t a nasty habit?"

"Uh ... Gwen my love, I am not going to apologize for writing ... anymore than I would apologize for this missing foot ... and in truth one led to the other. When I could no longer follow the profession of arms, I had to do something to eat. I wasn't trained for anything else and back home some other kid had my paper route. But writing is a legal way of avoiding work without actually stealing and one that doesn't take any talent or training.

"But writing is antisocial. It's as solitary as masturbation. Disturb a writer when he is in the throes of creation and he is likely to turn and bite right to the bone ... and not even know that he's doing it. As writers' wives and husbands often learn to their horror.

"And -- attend me carefully, Gwen! -- there is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized. Or even cured. In a household with more than one person, of which one is a writer, the only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private, and where food can be poked in to him with a stick. Because, if you disturb the patient at such times, he may break into tears or become violent. Or he may not hear you at all ... and, if you shake him in this stage, he bites."

I read this passage shortly after finishing Torrid Affaire. True words from someone who would know.

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