Thomas Wolfe's advice

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This is [may be] a first book, and in it the author has written of

experience which is now far and lost, but which was once part of

the fabric of his life.  If any reader, therefore, should say that

the book is "autobiographical" the writer has no answer for him: it

seems to him that all serious work in fiction is autobiographical--

that, for instance, a more autobiographical work than "Gulliver's

Travels" cannot easily be imagined.

 

This note, however, is addressed principally to those persons whom

the writer may have known in the period covered by these pages.

To these persons, he would say what he believes they understand

already: that this book was written in innocence and nakedness of

spirit, and that the writer's main concern was to give fulness,

life, and intensity to the actions and people in the book he was

creating.  Now that it is to be published, he would insist that

this book is a fiction, and that he meditated no man's portrait

here.

 

But we are the sum of all the moments of our lives--all that is

ours is in them: we cannot escape or conceal it.  If the writer has

used the clay of life to make his book, he has only used what all

men must, what none can keep from using.  Fiction is not fact, but

fiction is fact selected and understood, fiction is fact arranged

and charged with purpose.  Dr. Johnson remarked that a man would

turn over half a library to make a single book: in the same way, a

novelist may turn over half the people in a town to make a single

figure in his novel.  This is not the whole method but the writer

believes it illustrates the whole method in a book that is written

from a middle distance and is without rancour or bitter intention.