A roof and an overcoat
I intend to gamble to my dying day on my capacity to provide bread and butter, a roof and an overcoat. That kind of gambling, where you pit yourself against the primary hazards of life, is something I believe in. Not merely for writers, but for everyone. I think security tends to make us timid. You do well at something, you know you can continue doing well at it, and you hesitate about trying anything else. Then you begin to put all your energies into protecting and reinforcing what you have. You become conservative and face all the dangers of conservatism in an age when revolutions, seen and unseen, are occurring every day.
The result is that you are living in yesterday’s world. This is none too good for a nonwriter; for a writer it’s disastrous. You must always be ready to drop apparently everything that has served you and start all over again, learning anew, trying anew. On the day when you haven’t the heart to do this, you have become old. When you make money and are known as being a competent and well-heeled fellow, it’s natural to accept yourself at that value and to be horrified at the thought that you should ever again be broke—that is, that anyone should know of it. Therein lies the danger of being “established.” You become afraid to experiment, not only fearing financial loss but loss of face. I think one of the most poisonous of all fears is the fear of seeming ridiculous. That, too, is a risk every writer should compel himself periodically to take.