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From John Steinbeck

 
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Harry
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Joined: 15 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 7:35 am    Post subject: From John Steinbeck Reply with quote

It seemed unfair. I could read a fine story and could even know how it was done. Why could I not then do it myself? Well, I couldn't, and maybe it's because no two stories dare be alike. Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.
If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.
It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but, after many years, to start a story still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who is not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium.
I remember one last piece of advice given me. It was during the exuberance of the rich and frantic '20s, and I was going out into that world to try and to be a writer.
I was told, "It's going to take a long time, and you haven't got any money. Maybe it would be better if you could go to Europe."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because in Europe poverty is a misfortune, but in America it is shameful. I wonder whether or not you can stand the shame of being poor."
It wasn't too long afterward that the depression came. Then everyone was poor and it was no shame anymore. And so I will never know whether or not I could have stood it. But surely my teacher was right about one thing. It took a long time - a very long time. And it is still going on, and it has never got easier.
She told me it wouldn't.
1963
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Heidi
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Joined: 28 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:22 am    Post subject: quote Reply with quote

Thanks for the little snippet Harry. I agree there is no one formula or recipe to become a good writer (although many of secretly wish there was!) I have another little piece of advice. It's from Raymond Carver a famous fiction writer who wrote the piece Cathedral. Someone asked him once if good creative writing could be taught? He replied that "No, but it could be learned."
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Linda
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Joined: 14 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:18 pm    Post subject: Re: From John Steinbeck Reply with quote

Harry wrote:
...I could read a fine story and could even know how it was done...

[But] If there is a magic in story writing, ...no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer ...


Thank you Harry. I find comfort in both the insecurities and the strength of great writers... My own work is coming along; however, after being reviewed by several, the story line has taken a different turn. Now, the story has become more of a recording of a particular culture that (as a byline) includes the rise, fall and restoration of one family
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