I said, "I went to see Hughes the last time I was in New York."
He sat upright in the booth where we were drinking beer. A distance seemed to grow in his eyes. "What'd he say?"
I told him what Mr. Hughes had told me about my work - exaggerating ever so slightly. (I didn't tell him what else Mr. Hughes said because I didn't want to believe it and I wouldn't forget it either: I would have to be ten times the writer a white man was and then it would be hell, which was not exactly an unusual experience. Agents would return manuscripts with rust marks from paper clips because they hadn't bothered to read the material. Agents and editors would tell you to forget race - but they rarely published anything by a Negro that wasn't about race. Still, they didn't want you to be too serious about anything, even if you were able. But if I just had to be a writer, all this and more wouldn't stop me, and that was good. And I certainly had to read Llewellyn Dodge Johnson's works if I hadn't already.)