“Young writers should be encouraged to write, and discouraged from
thinking they are writers.”
Every writer – young, beginning, established and accomplished – would be wise to read and reread Stegner’s On the Teaching of Creative Writing (1988), then read any of his own novels, short stories or non-fiction for an excellent crash-course education in “how to write creatively” from the master himself – the man who studied at the University of Iowa and founded the creative writing program at Stanford University, where he in turn taught many great authors.
My personal favourites of the many books Wallace Stegner wrote and published are Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety. I have reread both many times, but am never able to decide which I prefer – they are both that good! The other non-fiction book I have always enjoyed is Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier covering the short period the Stegner family spent living at Eastend, Saskatchewan. When I was a publishers’ sales rep, I made a detour during one of my road trips so I could visit the town and see his homestead, which has since been refurbished and is available as a retreat for authors. My friend, Betty Jane Hegerat (previously featured on Reading Recommendations), spent a very reflective and productive month living in the house for a month a number of years ago, and still speaks fondly of that time.