Jennifer Egan: I Knew

So by that time I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I never wavered—ever—from that point. Not that I was confident; I had no reason to be confident. And I often had no reason to be confident, because anyone would agree that I didn’t stand out as being particularly talented or gifted, ever…

But I continued on pretty much undeterred. And so in a way I’ve come to think that it was really a good thing, because I think I was just someone whose abilities developed very slowly. But I was very determined and committed, and so even without that external validation I was able to find a way to keep myself doing this, and I feel that it equips me well for the long haul, because there are a lot of times where you don’t have that kind of external validation. You have to find a way to work without it.

Having never been someone who expected or received that sort of anointment, it was a deeply shocking paradigm shift for me to think that that [the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad] could actually happen to me. I had sort of defined myself—not unhappily—as a person who didn’t go that route but kept going, just trying to get a little better, and usually did get a little better each time too. So it just showed me what I already knew: there really are no rules about who does and doesn’t get this stuff. It’s luck and chance and things can line up in anyone’s favor.

– Excerpted from an interview with Jeremiah Chamberlin in Glimmer Train Stories, Issue 90

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