You change from book to book. You begin always knowing nothing. You remain forever an amateur, a first-timer. Sure, you might cobble together something akin to a methodology after a while, a working method, a sense of pacing yourself through the seasons. But that’s about it in terms of the pleasures and wisdom of the veteran.
What makes this worst thing also the best thing has to do with the agelessness of aspiration. When you’re always starting out, always trying to learn to do what you don’t know how to do, you remain close to the place (college dorm room, Prague café) where you first set pen to paper. You remain in touch with that crazy, dreamy kid who spent so much time in the library. You persist in being impractical, idealistic, naive, and brave. Your body ages, but your imagination remains young, and on your deathbed, if you’re lucky, you might be prideful enough to say to yourself, “I’m finally getting the hang of this.””