Long before the idea of a writer's conference was a glimmer in anyone's eye, writers learned by reading the work of their predecessors. They studied meter with Ovid, plot construction with Homer, comedy with Aristophanes; they honed their prose style by absorbing the lucid sentences of Montaigne and Samuel Johnson.
'One Hundred Years of Solitude' convinced me to drop out of Harvard graduate school. The novel reminded me of everything my Ph.D. program was trying to make me forget. Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I can no more reread my own books than I can watch old home movies or look at snapshots of myself as a child. I wind up sitting on the floor, paralyzed by grief and nostalgia.
For any writer, the ability to look at a sentence and see what's superfluous, what can be altered, revised, expanded, and, especially, cut, is essential. It's satisfying to see that sentence shrink, snap into place, and ultimately emerge in a more polished form: clear, economical, sharp.
I'm in a rage all of the time.