Samuel Johnson had some advice for aspiring writers. ‘Read over your compositions,’ he said, ‘and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.’ One imagines the impact of this recommendation on an eighteenth-century student of literature, clutching a page of overblown rhetorical flourishes and faux erudition. Our crimes of vanity in writing are very different now – more likely to take the form of descriptive tours de force of the kind fostered in creative writing classes.
'The Lake's Apprentice' by Annamaria Weldon
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Jane Goodall is a freelance writer and adjunct professor with the Writing and Society Research Group, University of Western Sydney. Her work has appeared recently in Griffith Review, Inside Story, and The Conversation. She won the Calibre Prize in 2009.
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