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author Katherine Anne Porter

“All this time I was writing, writing no matter what else I was doing; no matter what I thought I was doing, in fact. I was living almost as instinctively as a little animal, but I realize now that all that time a part of me was getting ready to be an artist. That my mind was working even when I didn’t know it, and didn’t care if it was working or not. It is my firm belief that all our lives we are preparing to be somebody or something, even if we don’t do it consciously. And the time comes one morning when you wake up and find that you have become irrevocably what you were preparing all this time to be. Lord, that could be a sticky moment, if you had been doing the wrong things, something against your grain. And, mind you, I know that can happen. I have no patience with this dreadful idea that whatever you have in you has to come out, that you can’t suppress true talent. People can be destroyed; they can be bent, distorted and completely crippled. To say that you can’t destroy yourself is just as foolish as to say of a young man killed in war at twenty-one or twenty-two that that was his fate, that he wasn’t going to have anything anyhow.

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“I look upon literature as an art, and I practice it as an art. Of course, it is also a vocation, and a trade, and a profession, and all kinds of things; but first it’s an art, and you should practice it as that, I think. I know a great many people disagree, and they are welcome to it. I think probably the important thing is to get your work done, in the way you can—and we all have our different and separate ways. But I look upon literature as an art, and I believe that if you misuse it or abuse it, it will leave you. It is not a thing that you can nail down and use as you want. You have to let it use you, too.”

— Katherine Anne Porter, interviewed for The Paris Review, 1963

author Katherine Anne Porter

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