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Timothy Findley: If You Stop, You're Not a Writer, 1994

…I was saying in my class this morning, there was this thing that Faulkner said, which I think we must all be obedient to, which is, "the last thing you have to do with your manuscript before you give it to the publisher, is kill all your darlings." Go through the manuscript, and take out everything that is there really only for you – because you think it’s wonderful writing, because you think this really does it – but it’s superfluous…

…Money is putting books in the bookstores, and the bookstores are all being bought out by the chains, and the chains are connected to the publishers – I mean it’s the old anklebone number; everything is now so interconnected that you can literally be told things like because the computers are all flashing through the numbers, they know what you’re selling. And there is a statement somebody else made that is a true statement, and that is that a book now has a shelf life of a tomato - and if it isn’t turning over ten thousand copies a week, kill it…

…I had my publisher, who I will not be with for very long in America, take his finger (well he didn’t do it but he practically did – mentally he did)…my next novel was sitting at his desk, and he literally pushed it at me like that, in its little blue binder, and said, "what makes you think I can sell this?" (And it’s a good novel)…He then went on to say – all this was said beautifully, you know, the shirt and the wonderful tie, and the beautiful haircut, the gym physique, sitting behind the desk way high up at Random House New York, which is not my publisher but my publisher is a sub of Random House – and all said nicely (in Inside Memory there’s a lot of my being in Hollywood and he read it), and he said, "you know you should write a novel about Hollywood." So I said, "I have." And I went out and got it in a bookstore and had it taken to him; delivered to his desk, the bastard. Then he’s telling me what to write. "Give me something I can sell." Well, think of the number of writers who walk through his door and say, "yes I will, what? What do you want? Tell me, please?" But I’m me, and I’m making it and I’m making it because I’m not going to stop. None of us are – O’Brien isn’t going to stop, Thomas isn’t going to stop. In spite of all the brick walls that are put in your way in various different ways, if you stop, you are not a writer. Period.

The late Timothy Findley, 1994