December 6, 1940
Dear Sam: 1 It's probably an ancient cliche, but it came to me like a revelation when we were discussing your play after the first reading that there would be no excuse for literary effort if human nature could be reduced to a formula. Literature is a continual reexamination of humanity--its status, motives, failings and ideals--and if it were made according to any set of rules it would come out constantly with the same result. There should be no rules in literature except those concerned with effectiveness. What the writer is trying to say must be left always to the insight and intuition of the writer. Don't let yourself be argued logically into any revision which offends or fails to square with your inner conviction--or which violates your own mood. No writer can justify himself logically. He can only defend himself by force majeur. You write the best comedy our theatre has ever heard--and comedy has its own Delphic laws which cannot be analyzed and are above control. Instinct is above all theory in such matters. Producers are always thinking they have playwrights on the hip when they ask "What does it mean?" and the pw doesn't know. But he should never be asked that question. He shouldn't know, and if he does he is not a playwright who will be remembered, for he has said something easy. The only question which a playwright should be asked is, "Do you really want it that way? Does it seem right to you, or as near right as you can get it?" No change should be made that isn't made to satisfy the playwright's own soul and conscience.
"Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee."
Also luck, love, health and your own way.