Tips for being a novelist

On the blog of the School of Writers we want to recommend today the reading of To be a novelist , designed for budding novelists although highly recommended also for anyone who wants to write well, novels or stories, regardless of whether their work is published later or no. « This book is for the novelist who has already concluded that it is much more satisfying to write well than to write only well enough to publish, » the author writes in the preface to this almost mythical book, which tells with the encouragement of the prologue of Raymond Carver , his most universal student.

The book came about in response to the questions and concerns that creative writing students raised with Gardner in his classes. Although he also talks about being a writer (dedicating one of the chapters to publishing and survival), Gardner’s interest is focused above all on the qualities that someone who wants to take writing seriously must have and how to develop them.

Verbal sensitivity, without falling into excess, empathy, the necessary solitude, the ability to observe, literary ambition but not strictly commercial (without rejecting it), are some of the hallmarks that the aspiring novelist should have, according to Gardner. “Commercial writers sometimes succeed and even be admired. But as I see it, they are of little value to humanity, « he says.

Although the nature of the writer is the axis of the book, the chapter dedicated to training is very interesting : Do you have to study a career in letters or not to become a writer? What do creative writing workshops and courses provide? Can you be self-taught? Gardner disrupts many topics and alerts against excessive praise by some teachers for beginning students. For this author, it is necessary to pop over to this site and maintain a balance, that the creative breath is not lost but that this impulse is not finally frustrated by a poor reception of the student’s work outside the classroom environment.

The chapter dedicated to survival and publication. It is perhaps the most distant one a Spanish writer can find, not because what Gardner has is not interesting but because it can cause more than one frustration. As in so many areas, in addition to the difficulties inherent in publishing, in Spain the precariousness is so absolute that one does not stop feeling a certain self-compassion, despite the progress experienced in recent years in some aspects, such as the consolidation of schools in Creative writing. In the United States, for example, literary agents are more or less open to representing young writers who have not published anything yet, but who may be talented. In Spain this is not the case. Here there is also the same offer of magazines where to publish stories, much less in which the collaborations are remunerated. The list of grievances is large.

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