I had long thought that to be an artist involved — and I think there’s writers who make this case — the repudiation of the world.  You channel all of these vital energies into only this one thing.  You’re not distracted by pleasure or ordinariness.  You don’t do any job that would use those same pieces of your mind.  And that was, to me, temperamentally congenial. Repudiation was something I was very good at.  So I lived in my 20s mainly fending off — not experience, because it was a time of great love affairs and so on — but professional work of a kind that would, I thought, draw on my vital juices.  I was a secretary, which did not do that.  But my writing life at that point was spent sitting in front of a piece of white paper at a typewriter completely paralyzed.  And I would think, “I’ve got to write something,” and I would write “the” and then push really hard and “tree” would come out.  But everything was dead.   I had exhausted a mode of writing in my first book.  I had no new sound to make.  You had to hear first a message from the ear, a kind of sound, a phrase.  I had nothing to go on.  And I kept doing less and less, because I thought I wasn’t sacrificing enough, I wasn’t renouncing enough. Finally it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to be an artist, that this dearest wish of my heart would not be answered, and I thought I’d better think of something to do.