Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, who labored long and hard to create a book-length series of interviews with yours truly, Being Michael Swanwick, shared with me a solicited blurb from John Clute recently
“Some authors refuse to talk about themselves or their work. Others do so, but run out of new things to say. Only a few have the fertility and the mental legs to go deep and long. J. G. Ballard and Samuel R. Delany and Robert Silverberg are three who’ve done so, at great length: but the books containing interviews with them, which take up hundreds of pages, end too soon. And so it is with Michael Swanwick. The 300 pages of Being Michael Swanwick are not enough. It is only the beginning of a fractal journey into the art and artifice and accident and fatedness inspiring his work that make almost every story Michael’s written over the near half century of a brilliant and prolific career so much worth talking about. The more we read, the more we want. The more we want from him, the more we gain.”
This is heady praise. But I don't quote it in an attempt to win your admiration. Ignore all that.
By a coincidence, over on Facebook, in response to a comment that surely I was always a good writer, my old friend Jay Schauer, himself a very good writer and a much earlier-bloomer than me, posted in response to a comment that I was surely always a good writer:
As Michael's former next-door dormmate, I'd like to mention that he was NOT always a good writer. I read some of his early fiction, and it wasn't that good. But his determination to learn and improve was hugely present. I honestly thought he didn't have the chops, and told him so. He proved me wrong -- hugely wrong. Now I look to him for inspiration and guidance. I have no hope of ever being as good a writer as Michael, but I can learn from his outstanding stories, and more important from his complete devotion his craft. I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel gratitude for his work.
I met him a few years later. By then he was writing concentrated, intense, dazzling ... fragments. But always writing.