To whom much is given, much is expected. Dave [Foster Wallace] wrote like that, as if his talent was a responsibility. He had a radical way of seeing his own gifts: ‘I’ve gotten convinced,’ he wrote, ‘that there’s something kind of timelessly vital and sacred about good writing. This thing doesn’t have that much to do with talent, even glittering talent […] Talent’s just an instrument. It’s like having a pen that works instead of one that doesn’t. I’m not saying I’m able to work consistently out of the premise, but it seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the art’s heart’s purpose, the agenda of the consciousness behind the text. It’s got something to do with love. With having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved.’

Zadie Smith, in Five Dials, Number 10: Celebrating the Life and Work of David Foster Wallace, 1962–2008