Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

William Faulkner reading a bookOccasionally, I run across something that makes me sit up, nod at my computer screen and say, “Yep. That’s it.” This post by Stephen Jay Schwartz over at Murderati was one of those things. It’s titled, “Why I Like Writers.” I know, I know, it’s obvious why one should like writers, but he has an interesting — and for me, edifying — take on it.

Schwartz echoes William Faulkner’s opinion — and more than a little disdain — of excuse-makers. Faulkner, in an interview discussing the craft of writing and the writers who do it, had the following to say about his fellow writers and would-be writers who find excuses for not writing:

“I have no patience, I don’t hold with the mute inglorious Miltons. I think if he’s demon-driven with something to be said, then he’s going to write it. He can blame the fact that he’s not turning out work on lots of things. I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, if I were not married and had children, I would be a writer.’ I’ve heard people say, ‘If I could just stop doing this, I would be a writer.’ I don’t believe that. I think if you’re going to write you’re going to write, and nothing will stop you.”

Yea, verily, Mr. Faulkner.

And then there’s this from Publisher’s Weekly: a call to vote for the THE great AmericanTo_Kill_a_Mockingbird novel. But before you jump up and scream whatever book you were forced to read in sophomore English, take a look at the list. I posted this on Facebook earlier, noting that it’s pretty hard to pick Mailer over Faulkner or Faulkner over O’Connor or anybody over Harper Lee. PW lists 60 novels in all, with an “Other” category as well. To simplify things (if you can simplify anything with a 60-item ballot), authors are represented with one work. For example, if you’re looking for Tender is the Night, it’s not there, but The Great Gatsby is and represents all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books. I haven’t voted yet, but the leader as of this writing is To Kill a Mockingbird. Surprised? Nope, me either.

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