The Scientific Indian

Raymond Carver: On Writing

Read On Writing by Carver if you harbor ambitions, then print the good lines and stick it on your wall. I came by this piece via an article in Guardian by Stuart Evers.

I am going to skip what Stuart said and point you to what interested me most in Carver’s essay.

Ambition and a little luck are good things for a writer to have going for him. Too much ambition and bad luck, or no luck at all, can be killing. There has to be talent.

Without clear-headed self-appraisal and awareness of one’s own level of skill and talent, we ain’t going nowhere. Reminds me of a quote that’s an old favorite of mine:

Like all young men, I started out to be a Genius, but mercifully laughter intervened. — Lawrence Durrell

Another bit that struck me in Carver :

Every great or even every very good writer makes theworld over according to his own specifications. It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.

Cervantes is still around because–even with all the cheap tricks he uses in Don Quixote, (I don’t know what Carver may have thought about Cervantes and his tricks)–he succeeds immensely in creating the uniquely crazed and uproarious world of Don Quixote.


  1. #1 IanW
    October 30, 2009

    Useful info! Thanks!

  2. #2 Dhaval Rathod
    November 1, 2009


    Thanks for sharing.

New comments have been disabled.