In his most recent book, The Barley Patch, Gerald Murnane writes:
For many years I wrote, as I thought, instinctively. I certainly did not write with ease: I laboured over every sentence and sometimes rewrote one or another passage many times. However, what might be called my subject-matter came readily to me and offered itself to be written about. What I call the contents of my mind seemed to me more than enough for a lifetime of writing. Never, while I wrote, did I feel a need for whatever it was that might have been mine if only had had possessed an imagination.
echoing Proust who, in Time Regained, includes the following in parentheses:
It may be that, for the creation of a work of literature, imagination and sensibility are interchangeable qualities and that the latter may with no great harm be substituted for the former, just as in people whose stomach is incapable of digesting this function is relegated to the intestine. A man born with sensibility but without imagination might, in spite of this deficiency, be able to write admirable novels. For the suffering inflicted upon him by other people, his own efforts to ward it off, the long conflict between his unhappiness and another person's cruelty, all this, interpreted by the intellect, might furnish the material for a book not merely as beautiful as one that was imagined, invented, but also in as great a degree exterior to the day-dreams that the author would have had if he had been left to his own devices and happy, and as astonishing to himself, therefore, and as accidental as a fortuitous caprice of the imagination.
and Christina Stead, in a letter she wrote to Thistle Harris in 1942, that was recently quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald:
I am opposed to inventing in life. Life is so strange, and we know it so little, that nothing is needed in that direction: we need only study: but real invention is needed in placing and rearranging, and re-creating.
and Thomas Bernhard, on beginning to write, in Gathering Evidence: a memoir:
What is important? What is significant? I believed that I must save everything from oblivion by transferring it from my brain onto these slips of paper, of which in the end there were hundreds, for I did not trust my brain. I had lost faith in my brain -- I had lost faith in everything, hence even in my brain.