The point is only to write the sort of things you yourself like most to read, which is easier said than done. We picture them as twins born of the same mother, but the two pleasures of reading and writing show little family likeness. They are as alien to one another as the ear is to the mouth. It’s one thing to train yourself to recognize eloquence and to savor the music of language; it’s another thing entirely to write well and put that sort of music into our own words.

The trouble is that a person is always deaf to the sound of his own voice. When he speaks, vibrations reach the ear through the air but also through the subterranean passages of flesh and bone that separate the voice box from the tympanic membrane. What he recognizes as his own voice is not the voice that others recognize as his. It’s no wonder we’re disturbed by recordings of ourselves.


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