On sacrificing stories

by look i have opinions

“Any first rate novel or story must have in it the strength of a dozen fairly good stories that have been sacrificed to it.”

—Willa Sibert Cather (in an essay found online here, audio here)

This is interesting because it seems to explain, or rather to excuse, the habit some writers have of repeating themselves. They publish the same story over and over in different forms and settings and styles, and only one or two versions are really remarkable or memorable. It’s probably unfair of me to expect such writers to sit on their “fairly good stories.” They’ve got to make a living, after all, and it’s never easy being the judge of one’s own work.