Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Against Guides

In The Atlantic‘s new fiction issue, Richard Bausch takes down the how-to industry for aspiring writers

April 14, 2010 Richard Bausch has never read a book of advice about writing fiction, and yet his novels and short-stories—not even to mention his writing awards—could fill a small library. In this month’s issue of The Atlantic, Bausch explains why he distrusts the vast, ever-growing, and frequently bestselling genre of how-to manuals for aspiring writers. Along the way, he makes a passionate and moving case for reading actual writers, the masters of their craft, instead:

“[W]anting to write is so much more than a pose. To my mind, nothing is as important as good writing, because in literature, the walls between people and cultures are broken down, and the things that plague us most—suspicion and fear of the other, and the tendency to see whole groups of people as objects, as monoliths of one cultural stereotype or another—are defeated. … This work is not done as a job, ladies and gentlemen, it is done out of love for the art and the artists who brought it forth, and who still bring it forth to us, down the years and across ignorance and chaos and borderlines. Riches. Nothing to be skipped over in the name of some misguided intellectual social-climbing.”

You can find the full essay, “How to Write in 700 Easy Lessons,” here.

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