John Gardner | On Becoming a Novelist | #24

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“Part of the writer’s problem may be the wrong kind of appreciation: when he does work he knows to be less than he’s capable of, his friends praise precisely those things he knows to be weak or meretricious. The writer who cannot write because nothing he writes is good enough, by his own standards, and because no one around him seems to share his standards, is in a special sort of bind: the love of good fiction that gets him started in the first place makes him scornful of the flawed writing he does (nearly all first-draft writing is flawed) and his sense that nobody cares about truly good fiction robs him of motivation.” ― John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist
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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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