Monday, May 02, 2005

Writing Quotes

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.  ~Burton Rascoe The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  ~Agatha Christie An old racetrack joke reminds you that your program contains all the winners' names.  I stare at my typewriter keys with the same thought.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960 Every word born of an inner necessity - writing must never be anything else.  ~Etty Hillesum, quoted in Ten Fun Things to Do Before You Die by Karol Jackowski A writer's mind seems to be situated partly in the solar plexus and partly in the head.  ~Ethel Wilson Publication - is the auction of the Mind of Man.  ~Emily Dickinson If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by persons who move their lips when they're reading to themselves.  ~Don Marquis There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters.  ~Miguel de Cervantes Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.  ~E.L. Doctorow The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare.  For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.  ~Henry David Thoreau You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur Polotnik An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.  ~Adlai Stevenson, as quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs Most editors are failed writers - but so are most writers.  ~T.S. Eliot What would there be in a story of happiness?  Only what prepares it, only what destroys it can be told.  ~André Gide A good style should show no signs of effort.  What is written should seem a happy accident.  ~W. Somerset Maugham, Summing Up, 1938 They lard their lean books with the fat of others' works.  ~Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621 My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin.  ~Karl Kraus As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.  ~Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894 The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector.  This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.  ~Ernest Hemingway, interview in Paris Review, Spring 1958 As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me:  grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall.  ~Virginia Woolf I think it's bad to talk about one's present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act.  It discharges the tension.  ~Norman Mailer To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.  ~Lord Byron Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean.  Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.  ~Theodore Dreiser, 1900 It is the little writer rather than the great writer who seems never to quote, and the reason is that he is never really doing anything else.  ~Havelock Ellis Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason.  They made no such demand upon those who wrote them.  ~Charles Caleb Colton Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.  ~Author Unknown, commonly misattributed to Samuel Johnson (*) (Thank you, Frank Lynch.) How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.  ~Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 19 August 1851 I am a man, and alive.... For this reason I am a novelist.  And being a novelist, I consider myself superior to the saint, the scientist, the philosopher, and the poet, who are all great masters of different bits of man alive, but never get the whole hog.  ~D.H. Lawrence, preface to Shestov, All Things Are Possible, 1938 Write your first draft with your heart.  Re-write with your head.  ~From the movie Finding Forrester It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write.  ~Sinclair Lewis Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?  ~Friedrich NietzscheWriting is both mask and unveiling.  ~E.B. WhiteLet's hope the institution of marriage survives its detractors, for without it there would be no more adultery and without adultery two thirds of our novelists would stand in line for unemployment checks.  ~Peter S. Prescott True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance, As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance. ~Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism" Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.  ~Franz KafkaAn author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.  ~Gustave Flaubert There's only one person who needs a glass of water oftener than a small child tucked in for the night, and that's a writer sitting down to write.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966 One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one's own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one's pen.  ~Leo Tolstoy A man will turn over half a library to make one book.  ~Samuel Johnson What things there are to write, if one could only write them!  My mind is full of gleaming thought; gay moods and mysterious, moth-like meditations hover in my imagination, fanning their painted wings.  But always the rarest, those streaked with azure and the deepest crimson, flutter away beyond my reach.  ~Logan Pearsall Smith No author dislikes to be edited as much as he dislikes not to be published.  ~Russell Lynes A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end... but not necessarily in that order.  ~Jean Luc Godard Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life.  ~James Norman Hall Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially.  ~A. Bronson Alcott The artist's only responsibility is his art.  He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one.... If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate:  The "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is worth any number of old ladies.  ~Faulkner, quoted in M. Cowley, Writers at Work, 1958 A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.  ~Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947 Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer.  But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.  ~Colette, Casual Chance, 1964 Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.  ~Jules Renard, Journal, 10 April 1895 The good writers touch life often.  The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her.  The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.  ~Ray Bradbury Having imagination, it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that, if you were unimaginative, would take you only a minute.  Or you might not write the paragraph at all.  ~Franklin P. Adams, Half a Loaf, 1927 You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world.  ~G.K. Chesterton The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.  ~André Gide, Journals, 1894 Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.  ~Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963 The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax.  ~Alfred Kazin, Think, February 1963 i never think at all when i write nobody can do two things at the same time and do them both well ~Don Marquis, Archy's Life of Mehitabel, 1933 Our passions shape our books; repose writes them in the intervals.  ~Proust, The Past Recaptured, 1927 Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.  ~Samuel Johnson, "Recalling the Advice of a College Tutor," Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1791 An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.  ~Chateaubriand, Le Génie du Christianisme, 1802 The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.  ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958 There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat critical gardens, various as they are, but through the jungles of self, the world, and of craft.  ~Jessamyn West, Saturday Review, 21 September 1957 I do not like to write - I like to have written.  ~Gloria Steinem Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not drive on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.  ~Winston Churchill One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.  ~Hart Crane He that uses many words for the explaining any subject doth, like the cuttlefish, hide hims

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