There’s some instinctive attraction that draws you, as a writer, to your subject. And the attraction usually has to do with some primal personal thing that, of course, you have no idea about. In the end, the piece always comes down to the one or two sentences you struggle over. The sentences where you try to say explicitly what it is that the two of you, subject and writer, have in common. Those are the sentences that you just bang your head against the wall over until you get them right. It’s very hard to make that distillation but that is actually what your job is. Without trying to pin the person like a butterfly to the wall, to sum it up. If I can do that, then I feel satisfied. To give the subject a reality in the form of a sentence that is like a piece of rock crystal or a prism.
— Judith Thurman, Cleopatra’s Nose