At one time I used to keep notebooks with outlines for stories. But I found doing this somehow deadened the idea in my imagination. If one notion is good enough, if it truly belongs to YOU, then you can’t forget it…it will haunt you till it’s written.
I suppose my superstitiousness could be termed a quirk. i have to add up all numbers: there are some people I never telephone because thei number adds up to an unlucky figure. Or I won’t accept a hotel room for the same reason. I will not tolerate the presence of yellow roses… which is sad because they’re my favorite flower. I can’t allow three cigarette butts in the same ashtray. Won’t travel on a plane with two nuns. Won’t begin or end anything on a Friday. It’s endless, the things I can’t and won’t.
Before publication, and if provided by persons whose judgement you trust, yes, of corse criticism helps. But after something is published all I want or read or hear is praise. Anything less is a bore, and I’ll give you fifty dollars if you produce a writer who can honestly say he was ever helped by the prissy carpings and condescensions of reviewers. I don’t mean to say that none of the professional critics are worth paying attention to… but few of the good ones review on a regular basis. most of all, I believe in hardening yourself against opinion. (…) And in this connection there is one piece of advice I strongly urge: never demean yourself by talking back to a critic, never. Write those letter to the editor in your head, but don’t put them on paper.
People are always asking me if I believe that writing can be taught. My answer is, “No – I don’t think writing can be taught”. But on the other hand, if I were a young writer and convinced of my talent, I could do a lot worse than to attend a really good college workshop – for one reason only. Any writer, and especially the talented witer, needs an audience. The more immediate that audience is, the better for him because it stimulates him in his work; he gets a better view of himself and a running criticism.