A: Pleasure and agony while composing the book in my mind; harrowing irritation when struggling with my tools and viscera — the pencil that needs resharpening, the card that has to be rewritten, the bladder that has to be drained, the word that I always misspell and always have to look up. Then the labor of reading the typescript prepared by a secretary, the correction of my major mistakes and her minor ones, transferring corrections to other copies, misplacing pages, trying to remember something that had to be crossed out or inserted. Repeating the process when proofreading. Unpacking the radiant, beautiful, plump advance copy, opening it — and discovering a stupid oversight committed by me, allowed by me to survive. After a month or so, I get used to the book’s final stage, to its having been weaned from my brain. I now regard it with a kind of amused tenderness as a man regards not his son, but the young wife of his son.
Maybe we can get rid of a lot of lousy TV, I hope. It can look better if we can destroy most bad TV shows and most bad movies, really making more quality movies. And maybe we’ll redo our educational system and begin to teach reading and writing again. We’re not doing it now, and until we do, we’re going to be a stupid race.
It’s not an intellectual thing when a mother protects her child; it’s an instinctive behaviour. We value all those things in the human being because we are human beings! But that’s pretty short sighted and narrow minded and I think it’s down to what Jeremy Bentham said which is, “…the question is not can they reason? Or can they talk? …But can they suffer?”
“It’s an important line in the book, from a Rumi poem, that each of us must enter the nest made by the other imperfect bird – which I really think means that, when all is said and done, all we have to offer one another is a welcome in each other’s messy nest, and maybe a cup of tea while we’re at it.”