Richard Bausch on reading & writing

There’s a great piece in The Atlantic by Richard Bausch on the How To Write racket. These books make big promises that, generally, cannot be delivered between their covers. Bausch argues that aspiring writers should put down the How To books and pick up the classics. He ends “How To Write in 700 Easy Lessons” with these words:

My advice? Put the manuals and the how-to books away. Read the writers themselves, whose work and example are all you really need if you want to write. And wanting to write is so much more than a pose. To my mind, nothing is as important as good writing, because in literature, the walls between people and cultures are broken down, and the things that plague us most—suspicion and fear of the other, and the tendency to see whole groups of people as objects, as monoliths of one cultural stereotype or another—are defeated.

This work is not done as a job, ladies and gentlemen, it is done out of love for the art and the artists who brought it forth, and who still bring it forth to us, down the years and across ignorance and chaos and borderlines. Riches. Nothing to be skipped over in the name of some misguided intellectual social-climbing. Well, let me paraphrase William Carlos Williams, American poet: literature has no practical function, but every day people die for lack of what is found there.

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~ by Valerie Palmer on April 15, 2010.

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