John Gardner

On the whole, the capacity for recognizing the significant is a gift. It helps not to be a dupe, to be, instead, a person of independent mind, not carried away by fads; and it may help to be a slow, deep thinker rather than a brilliant, facile one. If the young writer is by nature a foolish person, his chances are bad though perhaps, to tell the truth, not all that bad. Every teacher of middle age or more can count up instances of highly successful former students who, as freshmen or sophomores, even juniors or seniors, seemed silly beyond all hope of reclamation. People change, sometimes because of outside forces—sickness, a failed marriage, a shattering family death, sometimes love or success—sometimes from a gradual process of maturing or reconsideration.

— “The Writer’s Nature”