From award-winning author Marilynne Robinson‘s latest book, When I was a Child I read Books.
“I remember once, as a child, walking into a library, looking around at the books, and thinking, I could do that. In fact I didn’t do it until I was well into my thirties, but the affinity I felt with books as such preserved in me the secret knowledge that I was a writer when any dispassionate appraisal of my life would have dismissed the notion entirely. So I belong to the community of the written word in several ways. First, books have taught me most of what I know, and they have trained my attention and my imagination. Second, they gave me a sense of the possible, which is a great service– and too often, when it is ungenerous, the great disservice–a community performs for its members. Third, they embodied richness and refinement of language, and the artful use of language in the service of imagination. Fourth, they gave me and still give me courage. Sometimes, when I have spent days in my study dreaming a world while the world itself shines outside my windows, forgetting to call my mother because one of my non-beings has come up with a thought that interests me, I think, this is a very odd was to spend a life. But I have my library around me, my cloud of witnesses to the strangeness and brilliance of human experience, who have helped me in my deepest enjoyments of it. Every writer I know, when asked how to become a writer, responds with one word: Read. “