On the bulletin board above my desk, I keep a handful of quotes that have taught me something, or that I hope to learn from.
It is his world and no other.
—Raymond Carver, in the New York Times
This one is useful, but so is the larger passage around it:
Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don’t know any writers who are without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, and finding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that’s something else. . . . Every great, or even every very good writer, makes the world over according to his own specifications.
It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.
Sometimes I think I will search for my "way of looking" until I die. Other times I think it's probably evident in everything I write, and I'm just the only person incapable of seeing it. After all, it's my way of looking; I'd have to find another way to look at my own work in order to detect it, wouldn't I?