Talking Book

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From The Journals of Charles Chesnutt, ed. Richard Brodhead (Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 1993), 154:

Every time I read a good novel, I want to write one. It is the dream of my life—to be an author! It is not so much the monstrari digito. . . . It is not altogether the money. It is a mixture of motives. I want fame; I want money; I want to raise my children in a different rank of life from that I sprang from. In my present vocation, I would never accumulate a competency, with all the economy and prudence, and parsimony in the world. In law or medicine, I would be compelled to wait half a life-time to accomplish anything. But literature pays—the successful. There is a fascination about this calling that draws a scribbler irresistibly toward his doom. He knows that the chance of success is hardly one out of a hundred; but he is foolish enough to believe, or sanguine enough to hope, that he will be the successful one.

I am confident that I can succeed, in some degree, at any rate. It is the only thing I can do without capital. . . . I shall strike for an entering wedge in the literary world, which I can drive in further afterwards.