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Self-Doubt in the Great

Recently, in discussing the writer’s self-doubt in the comments with writer Greta, I speculated that even my hero the recently passed John Updike probably had such moments.

In one of the tributes to Updike in The New Yorker since, I found proof of this. In a letter to novelist E.L. Doctorow, Updike wrote that as a young man he was busily unfolding his own stories with techniques learned from others (which, may I say, he utterly transformed.) But, writing one day in his later years, he said: “now I am almost paralyzed by thinking of the great number of contemporary writers who know things I don’t know and can do things I can’t.”

Doctorow’s comment: “The self doubt of this prodigious talent moved the hell out of me.”

But he wasn’t paralyzed. He kept writing and publishing. He kept at it, in spite of any wobbles.

(Tomorrow: a piece I wrote years ago about my one encounter with Updike.)

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Categories: courage, fear, persistence, Updike

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