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And it dawned on me that I might have to change my inner thought patterns… that I would have to start believing in possibilities that I wouldn’t have allowed before, that I had been closing my creativity down to a very narrow, controllable scale… that things had become too familiar and I might have to disorientate myself. p.71
Bob Dylan

Being an Artist, Making Art

Sometimes you’re looking for the answers, for a reason - really struggling toward understanding everything, all at once, from all angles and in every conceivable dimension, which is of course an impossible task. Other times you just exist in a stupur of fascination. You notice things. You stay aware. 

When an artist murders their awareness, or allows someone else to murder it for them, they’re finished. So you have to keep your eyes open, you just keep on trying to feel your way through things and grope toward whatever it is your reaching for without having any idea what that is until you see it. Which is to say, until you put it down on paper or however else it is you choose to put it down, and make art. It’s not the echo of your thinking, it is it’s own mutant entity, it’s own alien life-form.

That’s what making art is: the creation of a new species of mutant-alien bastard children with a life of their own, that go on to spawn others of their kind. Tiny Frankensteins are being birthed in the minds of artists throughout the whole living, breathing universe at this moment, as I think.

INTERVIEWER

Is there any possible formula to follow in order to be a good novelist?

FAULKNER

Ninety-nine percent talent … ninety-nine percent discipline … ninety-nine percent work. He must never be satisfied with what he does. It never is as good as it can be done. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.

INTERVIEWER

Do you mean the writer should be completely ruthless?

FAULKNER

The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies.

INTERVIEWER

Then could the lack of security, happiness, honor, be an important factor in the artist’s creativity?

FAULKNER

No. They are important only to his peace and contentment, and art has no concern with peace and contentment.

INTERVIEWER

Then what would be the best environment for a writer?

FAULKNER

Art is not concerned with environment either; it doesn’t care where it is.

So the only environment the artist needs is whatever peace, whatever solitude, and whatever pleasure he can get at not too high a cost. All the wrong environment will do is run his blood pressure up; he will spend more time being frustrated or outraged. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.

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