William Faulkner? Stephen King? R. M. Allen? Lavon Rascoe? Lauren Passell? Ben Yagoda? Anonymous?
Question for Quote Investigator: A prominent novelist was once asked for advice by an aspiring author. The scribe offered the following crucial guidance:
Read, read, read. Read everything.
Highbrow, middlebrow, and lowbrow material were all deemed acceptable choices for scrutiny. Would you please help me to find out the name of this sage? It might be celebrated U.S. writer William Faulkner or popular horror maestro Stephen King.
Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1949 William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Two years earlier in April 1947 he spoke about writing to students of the English Department at the University of Mississippi. He delivered advice during a question and answer session. Boldface added to excepts by QI:1980, Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner 1926-1962, Edited by James B. Meriwether and Michael Millgate, Year: 1947, Interview: Classroom Statements at the University of Mississippi, … Continue reading
Q: What is the best training for writing? Courses, experience, or what?
Faulkner: Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.
The text above is from “Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner 1926-1962”. This book reprinted notes taken by student R. M. Allen who was present when Faulkner spoke.
Additional details and citations are available in the article on the Medium platform which is located here.
Image Notes: Silhouette of a person reading from Aaron Burden at Unsplash.
Acknowledgement: Great thanks to Kelvin Muchiri whose essay about reading and writing on the Medium platform led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.
|↑1||1980, Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner 1926-1962, Edited by James B. Meriwether and Michael Millgate, Year: 1947, Interview: Classroom Statements at the University of Mississippi, Start Page 52, Quote Page 55, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska. (Verified with scans)|