I lived among these people. I know them and saw the essential qualities (not stereotype), the courage, the humor (an accident), the deformity, the basic tragedy of their lives--and the importance of it. You can't write about something unimportant to yourself. I was involved.
That wasn't all. I saw how they were maligned by their institutions of church and state--and "betters". I saw how all that was acceptable to the ear about them maligned them. I saw how stereotype falsified them.
Nobody was writing about them, anywhere, as they ought to be written about. There was no chance of writing anything acceptable, certainly not salable, about them.
It was my duty to raise the level of consciousness, not to say discussion, of them to a higher level, a higher plane. Really to tell.
Why the short story? Not for a sales article but as I had conceived them. The briefness of their chronicles, its brokenness and heterogeneity--isolation, color. A novel was unthinkable.
And so to the very style of the stories themselves.
from the SELECTED ESSAYS OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
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