One of my favorite writers has always been John Gardner, author of Grendel, October Light, Mickelsson’s Ghosts, and others. His books, The Art of Fiction, On Becoming a Novelist, and On Moral Fiction are required reading for serious writers. In his book The Art of Fiction he gives some advice that, although it’s primarily for writers, it’s just as true for other creative endeavors. In a world of puffy, cheesy creative quotes, this is some of the best, most realistic, and encouraging advice I’ve ever heard:
“Though learning to write takes time and a great deal of practice, writing up to the world’s ordinary standards is fairly easy. As a matter of fact, most of the books one finds in drugstores, supermarkets, and even small town public libraries are not well written at all; a smart chimp with a good creative writing teacher and a real love of sitting around banging a typewriter could have written books vastly more interesting and elegant. Most grown-ups behavior, when you come right down to it, is decidedly second-class. People don’t drive their cars as well, or wash their ears as well, or eat as well, or even play the harmonica as well as they would if they had sense. This is not to say people are terrible and should be replaced by machines; people are excellent and admirable creatures; efficiency isn’t everything. But for the serious young writer who wants to get published, it is encouraging to know that most of the writers out there are pushovers.”
That quote always gives me a shot in the arm. How about you?