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Quotes

'I never want to see anyone, and I never want to go anywhere or do anything. I just want to write.'

'There is no satisfactory explanation of style, no infallible guide to good writing, no assurance that a person who thinks clearly will be able to write clearly, no key that unlocks the door, no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion.'

'Always stop while you are going good and don't worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.'

'The most helpful quality a writer can cultivate is self-confidence - arrogance, if you can manage it. You write to impose yourself on the world, and you have to believe in your own ability when the world shows no sign of agreeing with you.'

'A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.'

'I always write in the morning. I was pleased to hear lately that Rousseau, too, after he got up in the morning, went for a short walk and sat down to work. In the morning one's head is particularly fresh. The best thoughts most often come in the morning after waking while still in bed or during the walk.

'You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear through the search.'

'There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you.'

'The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished MSS of today.'

'Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.'

'The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.'

The Blind Assassin

'After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.'

'The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.'

'Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.'

'A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.'

'The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.'

'Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it's work. ... Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.'

'Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.'

'And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.'

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

'The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.'

‘If you find a poem that sets you alive, gives you daydream time, then you are in fact transported. You are carried a little bit further, either into yourself, or perhaps out of yourself. If there is a difference.'

'One writes such a story [The Lord of the Rings] not out of the leaves of trees still to be observed, nor by means of botany and soil-science; but it grows like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mold of the mind: out of all that has been seen or thought or read, that has long ago been forgotten, descending into the deeps.  Read more

'There is nothing more dreadful to an author than neglect, compared with which, reproach, hatred and opposition are names of happiness.'

'Bad authors are those who write with reference to an inner context which the reader cannot know.'

'The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished MSS of today.'

'Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.'

'The only way to learn to write is to write.'

'Being a writer means you get to live vicariously through your characters.'

'A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.'

'I think a writer's job is to provoke questions. I like to think that if someone's read a book of mine, they've had - I don't know what - the literary equivalent of a shower. Something that would start them thinking in a slightly different way, perhaps. That's what I think writers are for.'

'Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.'

'If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally new writing, obey it - wholeheartedly - and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.'

'Poetry has been to me 'its own exceeding great reward'; it has soothed my afflictions; it has multiplied my enjoyments; it has endeared solitude; and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me.'

'Every writer must acknowledge and be able to handle the unalterable fact that he has, in effect, given himself a life sentence in solitary confinement. The ordinary world of work is closed to him -- and that's if he's lucky!'

'I rather agree with C. S. Lewis that a book that isn't worth reading when you're sixty isn't worth reading when you're six.'

'Writing a novel can feel like hacking away at a rock face - and it takes two or three years - whereas short-story writing is much faster. Either it arrives or it doesn't.'

'The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.'

'People are certainly impressed by the aura of creative power which a writer may wear, but can easily demolish it with a few well-chosen questions.  Read more

'No poet, no artist of any art has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.'

'Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.'

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