There’s a swell book that’s out of print now. Maybe Seven Stories will bring it out again. It’s called The Writer and Psychoanalysis by a man who’s now dead named Edmund Bergler. He claimed he had treated more writers than anyone else in his field, and being that he practiced in New York, he probably did. Bergler said that writers were fortunate in that they were able to treat their neuroses every day by writing. He also said that as soon as a writer was blocked, this was catastrophic because the writer would start to go to pieces. And so I said in a piece in Harper’s, or a letter I wrote to Harper’s, about “the death of the novel”: People will continue to write novels, or maybe short stories, because they discover that they are treating their own neuroses. And I have said about the practice of the arts that practicing any art—be it painting, music, dance, literature, or whatever—is not a way to make money or become famous. It’s a way to make your soul grow. So you should do it anyway.
This excerpt is from Like Shaking Hands with God: A Conversation about Writing by Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer.