Frank Conroy on writing

I am reading Dogs Bark, but the Caravan Rolls On: Observations from Then and Now by Frank Conroy, having just finished, Mentor: A Memoir, by Tom Grimes. Both very lovely books, but this quote from Conroy’s book about the Iowa Writer’s Workshop struck me as particularly useful:

The workshop asserts that it is process that counts. All the work is necessary to move ahead, hence it is all valuable. Every writer creates weak, middling, and strong work. No one ever knows when lightening will strike, and are all, much of the time, waiting for it. But we are not passive. We write, we struggle, we take risks. We work to be ready for the lightening when  it comes, to be worthy of it, to be able to handle it rather than be destroyed by it. (Success has ruined more writers than failure.) Writing, sayeth the workshop, is a way of life. You either sign on or you don’t. p.119.

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