Writers on writing

Discussion in 'The Workshop' started by garamet, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    How often we recall, with regret, that Napoleon once shot at a magazine editor and missed him and killed a publisher. But we remember with charity that his intentions were good.

    - Mark Twain​
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  2. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Publishing is the only industry I can think of where most of the employees spend most of their time stating with great self-assurance that they don't know how to do their jobs. "I don't know how to sell this," they explain, frowning, as though it's your fault. "I don't know how to package this. I don't know what the market is for this book. I don't know how we're going to draw attention to this." In most occupations, people try to hide their incompetence; only in publishing is it flaunted as though it were the chief qualification for the job.

    - Donald Westlake​
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  3. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. You should hear every sentence you write as if it was being read aloud or spoken.

    - C.S. Lewis​
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  4. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    I have written a great many stories and I still don't know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.

    - John Steinbeck​
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  5. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.

    - Henry James​
  6. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes. When I brood over these marvelous pleasures I have enjoyed, I would be tempted to offer God a prayer of thanks if I knew he could hear me. Praised may he be for not creating me a cotton merchant, a vaudevillian, or a wit.

    - Gustave Flaubert​
  7. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

    - Pablo Picasso​
  8. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    A writer's problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it.

    - Ernest Hemingway​
  9. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    There is the first satisfaction of arranging it on a bit of paper; after many, many false tries, false moves, finally you have the sentence you recognize as the one you are looking for.

    - Vladimir Nabokov​
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  10. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Don't get it right, get it written.

    -James Thurber​
  11. Jimmy Conway

    Jimmy Conway Guest

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    You seem to have been the only person posting here for a while, so I'll help you out.
  12. Jimmy Conway

    Jimmy Conway Guest

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    The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart. -Yeats
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  13. Jimmy Conway

    Jimmy Conway Guest

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    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation-thoreau
  14. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    I am 82 years old. I imagine that I will keep on writing as long as anyone wants to keep reading.

    - Tony Hillerman​
  15. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can't help it.

    - Leo Rosten​
  16. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    The main rule of the writer is never to pity your manuscript. If you see something is no good, throw it away and begin again. A lot of writers have failed because they have too much pity.

    - Isaac Bashevis Singer​
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  17. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Nothing happens unless first we dream.

    - Carl Sandburg​
  18. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    There is a myth at large in the general population, easily quashable yet somehow allowed to persist, that writing comes smoothly, like gas from a pump, or at least unbidden, like tears. This is bull. No decent prose is ever dashed off, especially that which appears to be effortlessly dashing. Just as Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks had to rehearse their leaps and pratfalls, so grace on the page has to be earned with infinite sweat.

    - Anthony Lane​
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  19. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good, they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.

    - F. Scott Fitzgerald​
  20. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Mere literary talent is common; what is rare is endurance, the continuing desire to work hard at writing.

    - Donald Hall​
  21. Diacanu

    Diacanu Comicmike. Writer

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    *Sigh*
    :(
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  22. NAHTMMM

    NAHTMMM GLORIAAA!!

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    "[The idea of characters taking charge is] a lot of baloney. You hear respectable writers, sensible people like Katherine Ann Porter, say the characters just take over. I'm not going to let those scoundrels take over."
    -- John Barth
  23. NAHTMMM

    NAHTMMM GLORIAAA!!

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    "The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in."
    — Dylan Thomas
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  24. K.

    K. Sober

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    Yes, but isn't that true of all people?
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  25. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Do not put statements in the negative form.
    And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
    If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
    Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
    Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
    If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
    Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

    - William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"​
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  26. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    By speech first, but far more by writing, man has been able to put something of himself beyond death. In tradition and in books an integral part of the individual persists, for it can influence the minds and actions of other people in different places and at different times: a row of black marks on a page can move a man to tears, though the bones of him that wrote it are long ago crumbled to dust.

    - Julian Huxley​
  27. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Moving around is good for creativity: the next line of dialogue that you desperately need may well be waiting in the back of the refrigerator or half a mile along your favorite walk.

    - Will Shetterly​
  28. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none.

    - Jules Renard​
  29. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's works is all I can permit myself to contemplate.

    - John Steinbeck​
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  30. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    As a writer, I need an enormous amount of time alone. Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It's a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write. Having anybody watching that or attempting to share it with me would be grisly.

    - Paul Rudnick​
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