“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art,” William Faulkner once remarked, and the phrase became good as law. A writer, he said, was “driven by demons.” If he was any good, it was because he was ruthless, willing to sacrifice whatever it took to tell his story. Forget pride, honor, decency: If a writer had to rob his mother, he wouldn’t hesitate. Literature was a maw that had to be fed.
Indeed, robbing mothers is the least of it. The best writers have been known to rob fathers and forefathers, too; sisters, cousins and aunts. They’ll burgle their own children if they have to. If there’s a novelist or memoirist in your family, you know what I mean. You’re in for identity theft. You’re taking your chances.