No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
The opening paragraph of Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House, should scare the beans out of any aspiring writer. The grace and impact of the simple prose are awesome.
Music is a large part of my writing process. Of late, the 4th symphony of Brahms plays constantly on my decrepit cassette deck. Symphonies in general are conducive to the writing of novels, I find, and are in regular rotation when I am locked away inside my blue light pod pummeling at the page. The symphonies of Brahms lately drive me on, as well as those of Dvorak and (inevitably) Beethoven.