On Becoming a Novelist
Lately, I’ve been keeping an eye on some of the larger Facebook Writing Groups, and what strikes me again and again is that if some of those many thousands and thousands of like-to-be writers would truly like to know what it takes and how to go about it (rather than fish for approval, admiration and instantly gratifying answers to often quite banal questions), they could do a lot worse than taking a week out, brew a nice cup of tea, turn on a reading light and sit down with John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist for a slow, careful read. A truly aspiring writer will find most important questions answered in this honest and well-written book.
Gardner, to be sure, was a bit of a controversial figure before his premature and untimely death (motor cycle accident), but he was an excellent writer and teacher, and while some don’t agree with all of his views (especially those expressed in his On Moral Fiction), they were all steeped in experience and an honest desire to help.
What does it take to become a novelist? Gardner addresses this question in some depth, including intention, schooling, stamina (marathon runner), livelihood, faith (in oneself), creative writing classes, etc., and his answers, and elaborations on them, are perspicacious and enlightening.
I would go so far as to say that this book could well be an aspiring writer’s best friend.