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I like things that make me think, that delve deeper than the average surface talk. People "dummy" things down too much for fear of scaring other people away.I had only just got up, and already I was bone-tired. I sat in a meagre panelling of sun on the couch and stared blankly at my fingernails: they were the only things to look at; I was far too tired to pick up The Nine Tailors, which sat beside me. Was the polish really that bad? It was chipped and shabby, but was it completely reprehensible, or could I leave off scrubbing it away for another day - or at least the morning? I was so, so tired. Was that a hair stuck on the ragged edge of a nail? My eyes adjusted. No, it was only one of the creases in my palm. Weird-lines. Weird-lines, I called them in my stories, after the Norse "fate," and the old belief (that I did not myself adhere to) that you could read your fortune in those etchings. Perhaps people would not always follow that - perhaps people would not always be acquainted with the old use of "weird," but if they were worth their salt as readers they would not mind learning - and if they did mind, well, I wasn't writing for that sort of reader, anyway.
"The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past ages."
I had been meaning to address the above, introductory comment, which I got on my post She Was Not of His Folk, but I was having a little trouble solidifying my thoughts, and then I happened to chance upon a piece of published material which I thought did the author no justice and was quite juvenile. I was angry, and since Rachel was unfortunately present to be ranted at, I lit into her (I think she deserves a halo) complaining that I do not expect the calibre of Tolkien, and E.R. Eddison, and some of the other Big Names from my library, but I push myself - I flog the best out of myself - and I fully expect other writers to do the same with their own geniuses. I expect everything and more from myself, and I hold everyone else to the same standard. I am the poster-child for quixotic, I know. The varying developmental stages that people may be at in their writing aside, I am of the opinion that the writing genius suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. In my whirlwind way, I told Rachel that I am all an illusionist's pocket of tricks: light, colour, distraction - and then the punch. If nothing else, I must know when to hit people in the right nerve, and I must know how to do it. To me, writing is a physical, violent sport, and one cannot be afraid nor "dumb things down," or one's writing is ineffectually boxing at the air.
Perhaps the only aspect of my life in which I could conceivably be called brave is my writing - but even then I don't consciously think "I will be brave, and I will not think that perhaps this will drive people away" while I am writing, so even in that I cannot take much credit. But even so, whether it is a choice of vice in a character, or the use of an archaic word that people may not be readily acquainted with, I come stiffened with a certain amount of hubris that assures me I know what I am doing, and a certain amount of impatient charity which also tells me that the reader can keep up.
"I quickly learned that reading is cumulative and proceeds by geometrical progression: each new reading builds upon whatever the reader has read before."
In addition to expecting the world of myself, I don't pretend that I am the whole world to my reader. I fully expect that he will be reading other works (no doubt better and more informed than my own), and that any passages in my works in which I am speaking in parts and portions and dark sayings will in these latter days be revealed in the light of someone else's literature. I also have a candid appreciation for my own lack of intelligence: I don't know Latin, or Greek, I don't read lengthy passages of Norse mythology on a whim: everything I know, anyone else can find - if not, they are just lazy in the brain-pan, and I have no use for that. I don't usually make people "think deeply" on purpose, as though I knew anything worth really sharing, but if people want to walk with me, I'm happy to have them along. Meanwhile, I will always stay true to my craft, and think very little about the reader in the process. The reader only gets underfoot at this stage, anyway. He can have a slice of pie when it is done baking. Shoo.
It's best to remember that the reader, like an animal, can smell fear in the author.