August 10, 2009

Quotes From Stuff I Like - Gardner

I found some quotes from stuff I like jotted down in a notebook the other day and thought I'd share some of them with you. Here's the first batch, a small, numbered, single-barrel batch.

On Becoming a Novelist, John Gardner

p. 42. Teaching creative writing, one constantly hears students say of their work, “I am trying to show . . .” The error of this is obvious once it’s pointed out. Does the twenty- or twenty-five-year-old writer really have brilliant insights that the intelligent reading public (doctors, lawyers, professors, skilled machinists, business men) has never before heard or thought of? If the young novelist’s answer is an emphatic yes, he would do the world a favor by entering the ministry or the Communist party. If I belabor the point, I do so only because the effect of English literature courses is so often, for a certain kind of student, insidious.

p. 43. One of the great temptations of young writers is to believe that all the people in the subdivision in which he grew up were fools and hypocrites in need of blasting or instruction. As he matures, the writer will come to realize, with luck, that the people he scorned had important virtues, that they had better heads and hearts, than he knew. The desire to show people proper beliefs and attitudes is inimical to the noblest impulses of fiction.

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