How do you exhaust the emotion? Is it only a matter of thinking about the story over a certain length of time, or are there other considerations?
No, I don’t think it is merely a matter of time. Suppose you ate nothing but apples for a week. Unquestionably you would exhaust your appetite for apples and most certainly know what they taste like. By the time I write a story I may no longer have any hunger for it, but I feel that I thoroughly know its flavor. The Porgy and Bess articles are not relevant to this issue. That was reporting, and “emotions” were not much involved—at least not the difficult and personal territories of feeling that I mean. I seem to remember reading that Dickens, as he wrote, choked with laughter over his own humor and dripped tears all over the page when one of his characters died. My own theory is that the writer should have considered his wit and dried his tears long, long before setting out to evoke similar reactions in a reader. In other words, I believe the greatest intensity in art in all its shapes is achieved with a deliberate, hard, and cool head. For example, Flaubert’s A Simple Heart. A warm story, warmly written; but it could only be the work of an artist muchly aware of true techniques, i.e., necessities. I’m sure, at some point, Flaubert must-have felt the story very deeply—but not when he wrote it.