As a writer you are, of course, aware of the arbitrary relationship of symbol-sounds to their meanings; but no real writer wants it that way. In doing On Being Blue, I was struck by the way in which meanings are historically attached to words: it is so accidental, so remote, so twisted. A word is like a schoolgirl’s room—a complete mess—so the great thing is to make out a way of seeing it all as ordered, as right, as inferred and following. Now, when you take language out of the realm in which it is produced and put it in poetry and fiction, you transform it completely. Maybe that is the least understood aesthetic phenomenon. That process of transformation is perhaps the essence of creative activity.
Self-Portrait by William Gass.