John Cleary, 1917 - 2010

Australian author of nearly 60 novels John Cleary died on Monday aged 92.  I confess to having read none of his novels, but I enjoyed reading his obituary, which you can read  here.   I was struck by this quote:

“I did not have the intellectual depth to be the writer I would like to be, so I determined to be as good a craftsman as I might be.”

Very good advice for aspiring writers. Being conscious of one's limitations can be a great barrier, but perhaps it can be, as it was for Cleary, a spur. A craftsman is not the same thing as an artist, but craft is probably the best diversion from the absence of genius.  Deft and steady craftsmanship will often produce a better result than dazzling but fitful brilliance. One of the most dispiriting criticisms for an author I think would be that she had overreached.