I’ve been writing a novel, a big American novel, brutal, big, honest, and, like money meaning something different to everyone who reads it. But the manuscript is falling apart, the opening chapters are totally lost, and the rest is impossible to revise. I’ve tried; my editor explains that the plot is a mess, random crises with no epiphany, no denouement. The theme, if it has one, is obscured by irrelevant observations and random events. The worst thing is it’s horribly sentimental. I know I shouldn’t plead that it’s true to life. A novelist must be an artist. The facts are no excuse for sloppiness of execution and vague conception. I keep adding characters, scenes, plots; I break the rules like any avant-garde. It hurts me when my critics complain but an artist must first please himself. So what if he can’t help it? The critics are ill-informed; they have read only short pieces of the whole. I say it’s like having an eccentric character or a bad accent; you can’t make it normal by abuse and neglect.