On dialogue and failure to communicate

“It can be tempting when writing realist dialogue to carry out the assumption that when two people are speaking, they are speaking to each other. Like checkered tiles in a kitchen, this kind of dialogue is a pattern that the reader has seen before, many times: a pattern they can recognize without looking closely, and so barely see. […]

“But in reality, nobody ever talks to anyone else. What speech actually achieves is a communication between one person and that person’s idea of the other. Most of the time there is no difference, no discernible difference, between such verisimilitude and the truth. But the best dialogue will manifest this disparity in subtle, slender ways. It will show how, in speaking, we fail to speak.”

—Samsun Knight (x)


On working without external validation

“I was very determined and committed, and so even without that external validation I was able to find a way to keep myself [writing], and I feel that it equips me well for the long haul, because there are a lot of times where you don’t have that kind of external validation. You have to find a way to work without it.”

—Jennifer Egan (x)