John Gardner On Life and Writing #14

Quote about John Gardner: “The late John Gardner once said that there are only two plots in all of literature. You go on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Since women, for many years, were denied the journey, they were left with only one plot in their lives — to await the stranger. Indeed, there is essentially no picaresque tradition among women novelists. While the latter part of the twentieth century has seen a change of tendency, women’s literature from Austen to Woolf is by and large a literature about waiting, usually for love.” ― Mary Morris, The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Travellers



“…ultimately it comes down to, are you making or are you destroying? If you try very hard to create ways of living, create dreams of what is possible, then you win. If you don’t, you may make a fortune in ten years, but you’re not going to be read in twenty years, and that’s
that.” John Gardner

Quote about John Gardner: “It was [John Gardner’s] conviction that if the words in the story were blurred because of the author’s insensitivity, carelessness, or sentimentality, then the story suffered from a tremendous handicap. But there was something even worse and something that must be avoided at all costs: if the words and the sentiments were dishonest, the author was faking it, writing about things he didn’t care about or believe in, then nobody could ever care anything about it.” ― Raymond Carver, Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose


John Gardner (1933–1982) was born in Batavia, New York. His critically acclaimed books include the novels Grendel, The Sunlight Dialogues, and October Light, for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as several works of nonfiction and criticism such as On Becoming a Novelist. He was also a professor of medieval literature and a pioneering creative writing teacher whose students included Raymond Carver and Charles Johnson. When I worked at Bennington College in Southern VT I would often see him walking across the campus during the Summer Writing Workshops. Or when his white hair was flowing as he rode his beloved motorcycle on campus or away.  –  j.kiley

3 thoughts on “John Gardner On Life and Writing #14

    • Isn’t writer’s block when the voices stop. Just an aside . pay no attention to the block behind the scream.

      But seriously . . . before I write I need a toke of vape . then who knows what will ink its way out.


      Out of the dust
      Of extra words

      Be their blight
      Their crime is
      To blot out the light

      Yet it’s glowing still bright
      The Creative Burn

      © j.kiley ’17
      free verse

      ps. thanks for the inspiration. ❣

      Liked by 1 person

  1. And here’s one just for you:


    She seats herself to write

    Half fearing her writing
    Will drive her mad while
    Half hopes it will cure her

    In two minds – Ah, if only
    Thinks were so simple
    Turmoil turmoil turmoil

    Enough! Dismisses them all
    And seats herself to write

    (P. S. “Thinks” is not a mistake.)


Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.