Johnvano's Reviews > The Imaginary Girlfriend

The Imaginary Girlfriend by John Irving
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's review
Oct 26, 10

liked it
Recommended for: aspiring novelists
Read from October 07 to 23, 2010

The title makes you think it's another quirky novel by the craftsman, but it's actually a short writing memoir. "The Imaginary Girlfriend" offers the reader a comfortable peek into Irving's writing journey, the slow beginning, his feelings of inadequacy, his philosophy of hard work, and his wrestling.

The book is mostly about wrestling--his own, his coaches, his sons. There's far too much of it, but it is his life and it works as a beautiful backdrop for lessons about the craft of writing. I enjoyed reading and identifying with this humble and pragmatic author, and found his observations about writing practical and encouraging. He lets it be known that most of his success is due to discipline.

"My life in wrestling was 1/8 talent and 7/8s discipline. I believe that my life as a writer consists of 1/8 talent and 7/8s discipline, too."

"...your not very talented needn't be the end of it."

"I have no doubt that I have learned more from wrestling than from Creative Writing classes; good writing means rewriting, and good wrestling is a matter of redoing--repetition without cease is obligatory, until the moves become second nature. I have thought of myself as a "born" writer--anymore than I think of myself as a "natural" athlete, or even a good one. What I am is a good rewriter; I never get anything right the first time--I just know how to revise, and revise."

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