July 7, 2012

War Of The Writers

No matter how hard you work, how many hours you spend honing your art... even if you are considered a great writer by many (critics included), you'll still manage to get some people to hate your writing (and even yourself).  There's no escaping it.

Here's an extract from I Used to Know That: Literature that shows what some great authors thought of some of their compatriots:
  • "I cannot stand Tolstoy, and reading him was the most boring literary duty I ever had to perform, his philosophy and his sense of life are not merely mistaken, but evil, and yet, from a purely literary viewpoint, on his own terms, I have to evaluate him as a good writer." --Ayn Rand.
  • "Poor Faulkner.  Dow he really think big emotions come from big words?  He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words.  I know them all right.  But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use."  --Ernest Hemingway, having been informed that William Faulkner believed Hemingway "had no courage" and "had never been known to use a word that might send the reader to the dictionary."
  • "That's not writing, that's typing." --Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac's On The Road.
  • "This is not at all bad, except as prose."  --Gore Vidal on Herman Wouk's The Winds of War.
  • "At certain points, reading the work can even be said to resemble the act of making love to a three-hundred-pound woman.  Once she gets on top, it's over.  Fall in love, or be asphyxiated."  --Norman Mailer, on Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full.
  • "No more than the greatest mind ever to stay in prep school."  --Norman Mailer, on J. Salinger.
  • "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'."  --Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman.
  • "The characters are nearly indistinguishable.  A man in a wheelchair cannot just be a man in a wheelchair; he must be a vehicle to help a lame metaphor get around.  Such is the method of the Well-Crafted Short Story."  --Colson Whitehead on Richard Frost's short-story collection A Multitude of Sings (Two years later, Ford responded by spitting on Whitehead).
So you see, don't get discouraged.  However, by no means cease to try to improve your craft either...  Yeah, I've got loooooots of work ahead of me still.  Le Sigh. 

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