When young writers write to me about following in the footsteps of those of us who string together nouns and verbs for a living, I tell them this: every story has already been told. Once you’ve read Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Wrinkle in Time, you understand that there is really no reason to ever write another novel. Except that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has ever had. And that is herself, her own personality, her own voice. If she is doing Faulkner imitations, she can stay home. If she is giving readers what she thinks they want instead of what she is, she should stop typing. But if her books reflect her character, who she really is, then she is giving them a new and wonderful gift. Giving it to herself, too.

Anna Quindlen (b. 1953) American journalist, novelist
Commencement Speech, Mount Holyoke College (23 May 1999)

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Added on 23-Apr-08 | Last updated 23-Apr-08
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