A charming note

I know one or two writers who’ve encouraged their children to write and it’s a completely hollow promise because, to return to the more or less unique situation of my father and me, literary talent isn’t inherited. When a writer-father says to a writer-son—and all sons, all people are writers for a little while—you can be me, you can be a writer, you can have my life, it’s a complicated offer. It’s certain to fall flat. So, perhaps out of natural indolence rather than prescience, he never did encourage me at all, and I never appealed for encouragement. What makes you a writer? You develop an extra sense that partly excludes you from experience. When writers experience things, they’re not really experiencing them anything like a hundred percent. They’re always holding back and wondering what the significance of it is, or wondering how they’d do it on the page. Always this disinterestedness... as if it really isn’t to do with you, a certain cold impartiality. That faculty, I think, was pretty fully developed in me quite early on. One day, when I was still living at home, my father came into my room and I placed my hands protectively over the piece of paper in my typewriter. I didn’t want him to see it. He said, later, that was his first suspicion. But then I did announce that I was writing a novel; I left home, and a year later the novel was done. I left the proofs of it on his desk and went off on holiday. When I came back, he’d gone on holiday. But he left a brief, charming note saying he thought it was enjoyable and fun and all that. I think that was the last novel of mine he read all the way through.

-- from the Paris Review interview with Martin Amis