To be a writer implies a kind of promise that one will do the best he can without reference to external pressures of any kind. In the beginning this is easier because only the best one can do is acceptable at all. But once a reputation is established a kind of self surgery becomes necessary. And only insofar as I can be a more brutal critic than anyone around me, can I deserve the rather proud status I have set up for myself and have not always maintained.
(John Steinbeck, 1958; from Steinbeck: A Life in Letters, eds. Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten; New York, Viking, 1975)
I think I will have my bedtime early tonight.