For fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in mid-air by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings.
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
The only part of conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part, which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
I think a writer’s job is to provoke questions. I like to think that if someone’s read a book of mine, they’ve had–I don’t know what–the literary equivalent of a shower. Something that would start them thinking in a slightly different way, perhaps. That’s what I think writers are for.
I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.
Let us learn from the novel. In the novel, the characters can do nothing but live. If they keep on being good, according to pattern, or bad, according to pattern, or even volatile, according to pattern, they cease to live, and the novel falls dead. A character in a novel has got to live, or it is nothing.
We, likewise, in life have got to live, or we are nothing.
D.H. Lawrence, Why the Novel Matters