Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Oh Mr. Perkins!
I think, in truth, that the best writing of all is done long after the events it is concerned with, when they have been digested and reflected upon unconsciously, and the writer has completely realized them in himself. It is good journalistic writing that is done quickly while everything is still new, but not the best writing. . . .
As to perhaps a couple years of college, I should think that might be of great advantage, in a general sense, but don't try to learn about writing there. Learn something else. Learn about writing from reading. That is the right way to do it. But then it can only be done by those who have eyes and ears, by seeing and listening. . . .
[T]he way they teach literature and writing in college is harmful. It results in one getting into the habit of seeing everything through a kind of film of past literature, and not seeing it directly with one’s own senses. . . .
(Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins, edited by John Hall Wheelock. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1979)