John Gardner | On Becoming a Novelist | #21

“The question one asks of the young writer who wants to know if he’s got what it takes is this: “Is writing novels what you want to do? Really want to do?”
If the young writer answers, “Yes,” then all one can say is: “Do it. In fact, he will anyway.”

“one sign of a writer’s potential is his especially sharp ear—and eye—for language.”

“The writer sensitive to language finds his own metaphors, not simply because he has been taught to avoid clichés but because he enjoys finding an exact and vivid metaphor, one never before thought of, so far as he knows.”

“The more often one finds the magic key, whatever it is, the more easily the soul’s groping fingers come to land on it. In magic as in other things, success brings success.” ― John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist

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 . including . 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

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