Jules Renard appeared to me in a dream, if you can believe it. But he was very kind. He wanted to encourage me about the novel I’m writing. ‘You’ll see,’ he said, ‘it’s going to be all right.’ We spoke in French, which of course I don’t speak in waking life but it was perfectly natural in the dream-state. Renard was wearing a white buttoned-down shirt. He smiled and put his hand on my shoulder. ‘There are good writers and great ones,’ he said, repeating a line from his journals: ‘Let us be the good ones.’
I can settle for that.
Another ghost of a Frenchmen, Joseph Joubert, is often quoted here. He has yet to make an appearance in my dreams. Were he to do so, he might remind me that he himself never managed to finish a book. There’s comfort in the failures of others. Joubert’s notebooks were only published after his death. Like Pascal’s Pensees, they hint at some compendious philosophical project that might someday have been completed if the author had been given enough mortal duration to polish and put it all in order.
It would be very easy for me to die at any moment. One never knows. If I were to die, the only people who might read what I’ve written so far are my wife and children. I can settle for that too. I don’t kid myself that it is a revolutionary or “great” book. I only hope that it’s a good one.