One’s personality and vision are shaped by other writers, by movies, by paintings, by music. But the work itself, you know — sentence by sentence, page by page — it’s much too intimate, much too private, to come from anywhere but deep inside the writer himself. It comes out of all the time a writer wastes. We stand around, look out of the window, walk down the hall, come pack to the page, and, in those intervals, something subterranean is forming, a literal dream that comes out of daydreaming. It’s too deep to be attributed to clear sources.
From a conversation with David Remnick that was published originally in the New Yorker and later in Reporting.