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Writing: The Last Resort

After the class, I asked Gruchow if I could talk to him about writing. A few days later, he welcomed me into his home, told me to sit down, and offered me a cup of coffee. He was bald and portly and kind. His beard made him seem like the professor he sometimes was. He had a quick laugh and a look in his eye like his mind was always elsewhere.

We sat, and I started asking him how he’d done it, how it all went, what had been his first big break, and on and on. Patiently he told me about his work at the Worthington Daily Globe, about his first book, and about his many struggles along the way.

When I asked for advice, he tried to wave me off. He warned me that the writing life was full of hardship and disappointment and that there were seven times as many people who wanted to be writers as could be.

“Don’t do it,” he said, “unless there’s nothing else you can do.”

Frank Bures, in Poets & Writers (2013), on his pursuit of writing.

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