That's right, stuff. TVs and stereos and new cars and condos in the country. Stuff. The stuff you see advertised on TV. Toyotas and BMWs, stuff like that.

So when I sit in the library surrounded by books and look out on the hubbub I think, What is it that I'm in pursuit of? Art. I'm trying to write a damn good novel. One that is moving, dramatic, and says something important about the human condition. If in the pursuit of this I make a little money, so much the better. But if I don't? Well, I can do without the stuff. And I feel a little sorry for all those poor slobs down there pursuing stuff that just wears out and rusts and needs repainting.

Writing a damn good novel and getting it published gives me far more lasting pleasure than owning a Porsche turbo Carrera. A few good reviews, a few people saying, "I read your novel and was gripped beginning to end." That is more rewarding to me than a fistful of stock options.

Writing about writing has its rewards as well. Strangers come up to me and say they read How to Write a Damn Good Novel and they found it extremely helpful. Think of it, maybe long after I'm dead some kid in Nebraska will find a dusty copy of this book and it will help him, perhaps, to see that it is possible for him or her to become another Peter Benchley or Stephen King; a Jane Austen or Margaret Mitchell; a Stephen Crane or Fyodor Dostoevksy. Maybe even a Franz Kafka.

If I do become wildly successful down the line somewhere, you'll still be able to find me in the same college library surrounded by a stack of books, occasionally gazing out the window at the hubbub below, feeling sorry for those poor slobs pursuing their stuff.

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