(Or rather: On writing and himself as a public person.)
Michel Faber, author of not just one but two of my favourite novels (Under the Skin and The Crimson Petal and the White), quoted in a feature in Thresholds:
I’ve largely withdrawn from my career as a public person. I say no to almost all offers, don’t go to book festivals any more, etc. … I’ve resolved to avoid [these events], because you meet lots of people in the literary ‘industry’ and you smell their hunger for success or attention or status, and I hate to be reminded of all that.
Adjectives and adverbs are good and rich and fattening. The main thing is not to overindulge … I would recommend to all storytellers a watchful attitude and a thoughtful, careful choice of adjectives and adverbs, because the bakery shop of English is rich beyond belief, and narrative prose, particularly if it’s going a long distance, needs more muscle than fat.
– Ursula Le Guin, Steering the Craft
All of these declarations of what writing ought to be, which I had myself — though, thank god I had never committed them to paper — I think are nonsense. You write what you write, and then either it holds up or it doesn’t hold up. There are no rules or particular sensibilities. I don’t believe in that at all anymore.
— Jamaica Kincaid
This is probably the most basic of my principles in teaching. I even add it to the syllabus as an epigraph sometimes. No rules, never say never; just write, maybe using creative spurs, and then see what holds up, what works*, which often involves (when we’re ready) trying the writing out on good readers. And perhaps we can see if greater and deeper understanding of usage and convention (no rules!) will help us write even better, will help us grow our writing instinct.
* Yes, it’s about doing the work. See Ray Bradbury’s first mantra in ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’.