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This article is taken from PN Review 8, Volume 5 Number 4, July - September 1979.

On Necessary Secrets Millicent Dillon

I CAME to writing late. Writing in middle age, I carry with me the sensibility of an earlier time, a time in which I lived so much of my adult life, not as a writer.

In particular, I think how that earlier sensibility, that I share with others of my generation, cries out at the loss of distinction between our public and our private worlds. It comes to me as a double loss I share with all those others and the loss I feel as a writer.

Fiction has always functioned best when dealing with the byplay between the public and the private, assuming a barrier between them, definable if not defined. With the vanishing of that definable edge, that wall between our public and our private worlds, fiction has come into a state of decay and is mistrusted.

Think of the writer, working in solitude, transmuting private thoughts, fears, desires and terrors, giving them shape and solidity. Published, the work is thrust into that outside public world. Yet once again, when read, it is received as an intimate offering by the reader. The work-or rather, its reverberations-descend into the private world of the reader. There things will move if the writer has shaped that fiction honestly.

But what has the writer shaped that fiction out of if not memory (and forgetting), the most private of all experiences?

And still it is not yet enough to have ...

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