Art, it seems to me, should simplify. That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole–so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader’s consciousness as much as if it were in type on the page.
. . .
Any first rate novel or story must have in it the strength of a dozen fairly good stories that have been sacrificed to it. A good workman can’t be a cheap workman; he can’t be stingy about wasting material, and he cannot compromise. Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand–a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods–or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values. The courage to go on without compromise does not come to a writer all at once–nor, for that matter, does the ability. Both are phases of natural development. In the beginning the artist, like his public, is wedded to old forms, old ideals, and his vision is blurred by the memory of old delights he would like to recapture.
Cather, Willa. “On the Art of Fiction.” A Collection of Stories, Reviews and Essays. Project Gutenberg, 2008. Kindle.