When William Faulkner was interviewed by The Paris Review in 1956, he was asked whether writers need to be “completely ruthless.”
The sage of the South replied in the affirmative, with vigor:
The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.
He may not be right about the literary importance of “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” but the point is, nevertheless, an uncomfortable truth.