He had one of the rarest qualities in all literature, and it’s a great shame that the word for it has been thoroughly debased by the cosmetic racketeers, so that one is almost ashamed to use it to describe a real distinction. Nevertheless, the word is charm — charm as Keats would have used it. Who has it today? It’s not a matter of pretty writing or clear style. It’s a kind of subdued magic, controlled and exquisite, the sort of thing you get from good string quartettes.
Raymond Chandler, in a letter about Fitzgerald
An author I know remarked that writers are like mediums, they channel their characters. Another, who brought me that gorgeous bottle of Irish whiskey, is of similar mind. I try to gussy up the process by talking about sense memory, but we all have our talismans — those bits of manna; a pocket watch, a typewriter, a shooting script, a letter — that came from those before us, opening the heart to fluid time and lives infinite.