I think what is most important is arriving at a confidence and assurance in your own work. However that may come. Isolation is important. For me isolation was a way of stripping away the vainer goals I might have had—book deals and money and large audiences. The question of “Will an audience accept this work?” becomes foolish when you are the only audience. And if you are well read and willing to be brutally honest with yourself, I think at a certain point the author is the only audience that matters. If the writing is honest and ambitious and skilled then people will like it. There is an audience out there for every kind of writing. So I guess what I’m saying is that the community is best when you have reached the point when you don’t need the community. Otherwise I think people write to fit in and they write for the validation of their peers and their friends. That seems the sure way of losing ambition and writing small. You settle. You become comfortable. You become dull.