"I began to take my lack of talent seriously"

Just found this interview with John Irving, it’s fantastic:

“I was an underdog,” the bestselling novelist writes in “The Imaginary Girlfriend,” a long, autobiographical essay in his new collection of short pieces, “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed.” “Therefore, I had to control the pace of everything. This was more than I learned in English 4W, but the concept was applicable to Creative Writing — and to all my schoolwork, too. If my classmates could read our history assignment in an hour, I allowed myself two or three. If I couldn’t learn to spell, I would keep a list of my most frequently misspelled words — and I kept the list with me; I had it handy even for unannounced quizzes. Most of all, I rewrote everything; first drafts were like the first time you tried a new takedown — you needed to drill it, over and over again, before you even dreamed of trying it in a match. I began to take my lack of talent seriously.” God, if I could have thought of that when I was in high school! I just remember being extremely tired all the time, not being able to get through my homework and failure following failure following failure. I wasn’t even best in my best subject, Norwegian. To my teacher I was just the kid to tried to hard. I was never exellent at anything. And no, I’m not over it. I have the sense that it’ll continue to color the way I look at myself forever. God, high school is dangerous…. If I’d taken my lack of talent seriously back then, maybe I wouldn’t have felt like such a failure at 30. Something to think about. Here you can read the rest of the interview. Enjoy!


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