Friday, April 9, 2010

Mavis Gallant One of the 100 Women that has Influenced Me

Mavis Leslie Young Gallant is a Canadian writer. In her twenties, she worked as a reporter for the Montreal Standard a position she felt certain she got only because the men were off at war. In 1950 she took her savings, left journalism and went to Paris to pursue life as a fiction writing.

I saw her in interview once talking about this decision and ever the pragmatist she said something akin to, ‘But I was practical I had my savings and I gave myself six or so months to get something published. I submitted a half adozen stories to the New Yorker and luckily they were accepted.’

In her sixty year career she has published only two novels Green Water, Green Sky 1959 and A Fairly Good Time a decade later. The majority of her published works is done in brilliant short stories she admits have sometimes started as novels before being deconstructed in to a more succinct tales.

Gallant has donated her personal papers to the Thomas Fisher Library at the University of Toronto where they will become available to researchers 25 years after she dies. In the meantime, she’s busy editing her highly anticipated diaries. She wisely said, “Unless you have a million dollar endowment, you can’t publish everything you have written.”

Here are a few more of her genius little observation that makes me smile.

This about journalism, “... can keep a writer from getting bored, but it can also result in a writer forming bad habits.”

“Publishers will consider publishing a collection of short stories, but only if you’ve written a novel, or if you’ve produced a New Yorkerish collection of stories. But you have to work a long time to have a collection. They don’t come out of the ground like earthworms.”

“I detest amateurs. Anyone who is an authentic writer and has an authentic voice doesn’t need help from anyone.”

“Happiness, is for pigs and cows.”

And maybe that dog on her lap.

An excerpt from Ms. Gallant's, The Moslem Wife.
“Netta took it for granted, now she was married, that Jack felt as she did about light, dark, death, and love. They were as alike in some ways ( none of them physical ) as a couple of twins, spoke much the same language in the same accents, had the same jokes - mostly about other people - and had been together as much as their families would let them for most of their lives. Other men seemed dull to Netta - slower, perhaps, lacking the spoken shorthand she had with Jack.”t


  1. How inspiring! Thank you for bringing us this story. Have a wonderful day Simone!

  2. She sounds like a wonderful woman, one definitely to admire. Just from that short excerpt and those delightful quotes, I can tell that her style is one I would enjoy reading. Thank you for introducing me to this writer, Simone :)

  3. Interesting lady Simone. Thanks for sharing her with us.

    Have a great weekend.

  4. what an inspiring woman!
    Have a lovely weekend my dear :)

  5. Such an interesting woman! Thank you so much for sharing her with us.

  6. So many people seem to be inspired by Paris. But I'm sure she would have been a success had she settled anywhere.

    Enjoy your weekend, Simone. Bisou, Cro.

  7. I've not been much of a short story reader, but the excerpt you posted might change my mind.

    Thanks for introducing me to another writer :) Have a lovely weekend.

  8. Very inspiring! Incredible writer and extraordinary woman.

    Thanks for posting this with the marvelous photos.

  9. A post that is full on interest and very inspiring. As said above, great photos too.

    Regards, David.

  10. Interesting! I love what you teach me! Take care, and happy weekend to you.

  11. Her comments made me laugh. I like her pragmatic philosophy about money and writers. I'd never heard of her, so thank you for highlighting her in this post!

  12. Hi, Simone. I've been meaning to tell you how much I enjoy your tributes to women, but I also really enjoyed the bit you did on Wordsworth the other day.

    Simply lovely.

    Best wishes,

  13. Merci your Majesty for sharing such an inspiring and beautiful story on the long career of Ms. Gallant. I love to read or hear of someone that has stuck it out in a long career through the thick and thin of it, as this just encourages me to press foward and never throw in the towel.

    Royal wishes,