I wrote not so long ago about Kafka’s take on literature as a weapon. Compare that one to this one, by Yann Martel in Beatrice and Virgil.
Henry had written a novel because there was a hole in him that needed filling, a question that needed answering, a patch of canvas that needed painting—that blend of anxiety, curiosity and joy that is the origin of art—and he had filled the hole, answered the question, splashed colour on the canvas, all done for himself, because he had to. Then complete strangers told him that his book had filled a hole in them, had answered a question, had brought colour to their lives.
I like this warmer and friendlier description of writing. I hope to do something meaningful to myself and to other people; that’s all. I don’t mind giving them a little jolt, but all that stabbing and stinging might be overdoing it, at least for children’s books.