He asked me who was I writing for, and I said, “Well, Wally” — he wanted us to call him “Wally,” you know, because we were all informal around the place. He didn’t want anyone to call him “Mr. Stegner” or anything like that. I said, “Well, Wally, I don’t write for anybody in particular.” I said, “I’ve learned from many writers.” He said, “Well” — I said, “I’ve read all these writers.” I said, “I learned a lot from a writer like Ivan Turgenev,” but I said, “He was just an aristocrat writing in the 19th — mid 19th century — and I know he was not writing for an Ernie Gaines on a Louisiana plantation.” And I said, “Still, I learned from him because of the way he wrote that little novel. I learned about a young man coming back to the old place and how he reacted to the old place.” I said, “I didn’t know anything about that until I read that book,” and he said, “Listen, Ernie.” He said, “Suppose a gun was put at your head, and that same question was asked. Who do you write for?” I said, “Well, in that case, I’ll come up with an answer.” And I said, “The answer would be that, first, I’d write for the young black youth of the South, so that I could help him in some ways to find himself, his directions in life. Let him know something about where he’s coming from, what he came from, and how to try to help him find his way.” And then Wally said, “Well, suppose that gun was still at your head,” and I said, “Well, then I’d write for the white youth of the South, to let him know that unless he knows his neighbor for the last 350 years, he knows only half of his own history, that you have to know the people around you. And his neighbor, of course, was the blacks, African Americans.” So that was all the discussion on who I write for, but I don’t write for any particular group. When I face that wall, when I sit at that desk and face that wall to write, looking at the blank wall, I just try to create those characters as well as I possibly can create them.