I both want, and do not want, success. The writer is a recluse clamouring for attention. We want it both ways: Dear Reader, love my writing, extol my virtues, but let me get on with my work. And always of course, I am assailed by self-doubt. Libraries and book stores strike fear in my heart; all those spines of all those books looking back at me. Do I have something new to say? I read, with a great deal of self-consciousness, the words of Startsev, a character in a Chekhov short story: 'It isn't the person who can't write stories who is third-rate, but the person who writes them and cannot conceal the fact.' The point, of course, is to know when one has become boring.
To save myself, I blank out the world and become my own reader; I write for myself. Then, finished, I mail off a story and am amazed when it is accepted. Or, I am amazed when it isn't. I say to myself, 'That was one of my best stories, the shape of a circle, inconsequential, rambling, no beginning, no ending, a complete lack of message. Perfection.'
- David Bergen, from his "Notes on Writing" essay for Event Magazine (Spring 1994), as collected in 50 Years of Event Magazine: Collected Notes on Writing.