So Philip Roth says you write and write and throw most of it away because it’s not any good. It’s an awful field. Torture. Honestly, get out while you can. Elizabeth Gilbert says in response that writers are profoundly lucky because you are subjected to no real dangers in your job and, this what got me, you “get to live within the realm of your own mind” (her italics).

It’s that “get to” that’s intriguing to me. If you still think it’s a privilege to explore the depths of your own psyche, either you’re a much cleaner person than I am, or you haven’t gone deep enough. There are distinct payoffs that I would not trade for the pleasure of living in someone else’s mind, for not having to think if I choose not to, for the world to go on without my say so. But the responsibility you owe to your creations is staggering. You can never give enough.

Which, still, is a long way from making it torture, and in the vast realm of careers, being a writer does rank among the privileged in a lot of categories, like “least likely to die via malfunctioning drill rig,” or “least necessary to be located next to an operative volcano.” But if, when you close your eyes, you go on some blissful vacation– pray, love, do tell us what you ate, and where me and Phil can get some of that.

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