Wednesday, June 9, 2010
In the words of Dennis Lehane....
Bestselling writer Dennis Lehane and I are college alums, though years apart. I took a much diverted path toward this life of writing and academia.
But a couple of years ago, Dennis returned to our alma mater, and taught several courses. I was fortunate enough to audit his fiction class, during which he provided us a copy of the foreward he'd just drafted for a craft book forthcoming from his agent, Ann Rittenberg, who is also a fellow alum.
First of all, Dennis is not only a gifted, hard-working writer but a gifted, generous instructor. Today, I have the office he once inhabited as a writer-in-residence. His nameplate is still on our door, but below mine, which I joke is the only time I'm ever likely to top Dennis Lehane.
Whenever I feel myself stumbling as a writer, I return to his words.
Here are a few:
"Think about it: you have never existed in the world of literature before. Your voice, your vision, your unique stamp. I’ve read or seen a few hundred Westerns but I felt as if I were discovering the form for the first time when I read Cormac McCarthy’s BLOOD MERIDIAN. This country has the South and then we have Flannery O’Connor’s South. I’ve read Nadine Gordimer’s and JM Coetzee’s novels of South Africa and they are equally indelible and yet neither could have been written by the other. In great writing, the teller and the tale become so inextricably linked that to attempt to discern where one begins and the other ends is to court farce. So the next time you look in the mirror and think of your own writing remember that the face staring back at you is your most potent weapon. It’s the thing you bring to the table that no one else can."