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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Smart Chimps and the Art of Fiction

Here’s an old friend of any student of Creative Writing - John Gardner. You know the guy who wrote The Art of Fiction - notes on craft for young writers not to mention a bunch of novels of importance. Oh yes, and by the way, instructed a young writer by the name of Ray Carver. Carver has a good essay on him in his book Fires. Anyway, Gardner’s book is mandatory reading. Listen to his opening sentence: “This is a book designed to teach the serious beginning writer the art of fiction.” Would that I had the gall to say something like that. Anyway we know we know we can trust him. He has the goods.

Now here’s the second sentence: “I assume from the outset that the would be writer using this book can become a successful writer if he wants to, since most of the people I’ve known who wanted to become writers, knowing what it meant, did become writers.”

God bless him. And you know he’s right. But wait up…

“…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-up behaviour, when you come right down to it, is decidedly second class.”

Move over David, Gardner is king of the heap.

That’s what Resisting the Murder and Mayhem was all about. Let the chimps keep on banging away I’ve got the art of fiction to learn about first.

1 comment:

Kellie said...

So very true.