A child in London asked her father what autumn was, having heard it spoken of these days, and the father in explanation said it was a season, though not a major one. In cities, this father said, you did not feel autumn so much, not as you felt the heat of summer or the bite of winter air, or even the slush of spring. He said that, and then the next day sent for the child and said he had been talking nonsense. 'Autumn is on now,' he said. 'You can see it in the parks,' and he took his child for a nature walk.
You can’t apply academic rules to art of any kind. As soon as you begin to have rules, you begin to say, “Well, it works like this: A plus B equals C,” and then you’re absolutely, perfectly lost. You have to take the chance! You’re gambling all the time, sometimes with no idea if a story works. But the alarming thing is in the teaching of literature, laying down what the writer was doing. If you can see through it like that, the writing is no good. You can’t see through Dickens and Conrad.It’s a mystery how it’s done, even to the person doing it. If you think you know, you’re in deep, deep trouble. It’s rather like a born athlete analyzing: if you have a baseball player who can tell you exactly how he does it, then he’s not telling the truth; he doesn’t know. And I think once you lose touch with that, and believe you’re in charge, you could lose touch with the whole business of writing fiction.It’s an endless struggle to fool yourself. Just get going, that’s the important thing.
He was an old hand at the Camp now, his hollow countenance and the intensity of his averted gaze familiar to all who came and went around him. Some had carried to other camps a description of his lanky, quiet presence, had spoken of his strangeness, his regular, lone attendance before the chapel statue. He had made no friends, but in his duties was conscientious and persevering and reliable, known for such qualities to the officers who commanded him. He had dug latrines, metalled roads, adequately performed cookhouse duties, followed instructions as to the upkeep of equipment, and was the first to volunteer when volunteers were called for. That he bore his torment with fortitude was known to no one.
The more he asked about her childhood at Cloonhill the more Ellie loved her interrogator. No matter how strange he still sometimes seemed, she felt as if all her life she had known him. The past he talked about himself became another part of her: The games he had played alone, the untidy rooms of the house he described, the parties given, the pictures painted. Being with him in the woods at Lyre, where the air was cold and the trees imposed a gloomy darkness, or walking among the monks' graves, or being with him anywhere, telling or listening, was for Ellie more than friendship, or living, had ever been before.