Any accomplished writer is also a reader—and usually a reader first. For the writer who is the least a bit humble, this sets up one of the most significant psychological barriers to pursuing a writing career: How could I ever produce something as wonderful as [admired writer / admired book]?
This is an area that Steven Pressfield is well known for covering (see The War of Art), and in this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin, fiction writer Danielle Lazarin shares how she deals with the challenge:
I was only halfway through Stuart Dybek’s I Sailed with Magellan when I decided I should just give up on writing altogether…and I wanted to leave it to him, a far more lyric, braver writer than I would ever be.
At these humbling moments, I remember advice I received from Dan Chaon while studying fiction at Oberlin. At the end of a semester, he wrote to me: “There’s a very specific world that only you can write about, a map that only you can make…”
Also in this month’s Glimmer Train bulletin: