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I’ve never read a truer thing about writing (and literature). And this is only the second chapter of Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter. This book is a masterpiece!

Over a few pages, Frank Bascombe talks about why he gave up writing his novel:
“Why did I quit writing?...we both got gloomy in an attempt to be serious, and...didn’t understand the vital necessity of the play of light and dark in literature. I thought my stories were good at the time...they seemed to have a feeling for the human dilemma... was also true that there were a good many descriptions of the weather and the moon...and many of them ended with men staring out snowy windows...they also seemed to depend on silence a lot. I seemed, I felt later to have been stuck in bad stereotypes...
...we were both stuck like kids who had reached e end of what they know they know. I did not, in fact know how people felt about -most- things—and didn’t know what else to do or where to look. And needless to say tt is e very place where e great writers...soar off to become great
...I have to conclude we suffered a failure of imagination right there in the most obvious way...My characters generally embodied the attitude that life is always going to be a damn nasty and probably baffling business, but somebody has to go on slogging through it...
...I knew life wasn’t like that at all—but was a lot more interesting—only I couldn’t write about it that way. Though before that could happen, I lost heart...became distracted, and quit”

(ME: Story of what happened to my first novel right there)
“It is no coincidence that I got married just as my literary career and my talents for it were succumbing to gross seriousness. I was crying out, you might say, for the play of light and dark, and there is no play of light and dark quite like marriage and private life.”
Last fall, I had the fortune of meeting Richard Ford at the Toji Artist Residency. I am ashamed to admit I had not read any of his work then. Everything he told us is starting to make sense now...including the above which could well be an indictment about my work to date!
I have always deeply admired writers who can write humour; that to me is a true play of light and dark. This is a big reminder to self as I progress on manuscript: light and dark!! Life is grey, not just black and white.

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