First up, it's great to have an episode focused on John-boy's writing ambitions. He clearly feels it's never going to happen for him, and his sense of frustration is palpable. Top marks to Richard Thomas for another sparkling performance.
The literary man in question is AJ Covington, a wandering writer who stops with the Waltons for a few days on his way to nowhere in particular. Much like Tip Harrison, however, AJ Covington turns out to be rather more mouth than trousers, and his writing career turns out to be little more than a string of name drops. It's kind of sad, but he does give John-boy some good advice before he leaves.
In an unrelated subplot, Jim Bob has a life-threatening illness which requires emergency surgery to stave off imminent death. Were this to happen to any other character, it would probably warrant its own episode. Instead, the wee lad's brush with death must play second fiddle to chopping wood and discussing career plans. See 'The Vigil' (5x02) for an interesting comparison.
Despite the closing narration, we do get to meet AJ again, and it's good to see John-boy get some reward from his writing the next time round.