[from James Merrill's Collected Prose]
unless there's a story, of what conceivable interest is a tone of voice?
. . .
It can take me dozens of drafts to get something right, which often turns out to be a perfect commonplace. What joy when it works -- like fighting one's way through cobwebs to an open window. I don't mean that the more work you put into something, the better it turns out. Often you can feel the life ebbing away at the hands of a Mad Embalmer.