Sunday, 26 September 2010

Writers on Writing - AuthorScoop

I have collected my favourite quotes by authors on writing published by AuthorScoop over the weeks and reproduce them here: 

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” - TS Eliot 

“Writing a first novel takes so much effort, with such little promise of result or reward, that it must necessarily be a labour of love bordering on madness.” - Steven Saylor
“The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things.” - Thomas Hardy
“Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.” - Norman Mailer
The writer probably knows what he meant when he wrote a book, but he should immediately forget what he meant when he’s written it.” - William Golding

 “Success comes to a writer, as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed.” - P.G. Wodehouse
“Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 “Little Red Riding Hood was my first love.  I felt that if I could have married Little Red Riding Hood I should have known perfect bliss.” - Charles Dickens
“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” - Woody Allen
“The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” - John Steinbeck
“The cure for mixed metaphors, I have always found, is for the patient to be obliged to draw a picture of the result.” - Bernard Levin
“Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” - Gene Fowler
“When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man.” - Blaise Pascal

“Publication is the auction of the mind of man.” - Emily Dickinson
“A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.” - Ring Lardner
“No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.” - Henry Brooks Adams
.“What is The Subconscious to every other man, in its creative aspect becomes, for writers, The Muse.” - Ray Bradbury
“Human language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the time we are longing to move the stars to pity.” - Gustave Flaubert
“No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” - H. G. Wells
"Just how difficult it is to write biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the real truth about his or her love affairs.”  

“A copy of the universe is not what is required of art; one of the damned things is ample.” -Rebecca West

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” - C. S. Lewis
“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
Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up.” - Terry Pratchett
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” - Kurt Vonnegut
“Character, in any sense in which we can get it, is action, and action is plot.” - Henry James
“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” - Aldous Huxley
“What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.” - E.M. Forster

“If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework you can still be writing, because you have that space.” - Joyce Carol Oates
“I can’t bear art that you can walk round and admire. A book should be either a bandit or a rebel or a man in the crowd.” - D.H. Lawrence

“Any fool can write a novel but it takes real genius to sell it.” - J.G. Ballard
“Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you, life where things aren’t.” - Julian Barnes

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” - Rudyard Kipling

“We construct a narrative for ourselves, and that’s the thread that we follow from one day to the next. People who disintegrate as personalities are the ones who lose that thread.” - Paul Auster

“I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed.” - Umberto Eco

“And I don’t want to begin something, I don’t want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it’s my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you.” - John Irvin

But, before using these quotes, remember Leonardo da Vinci's wise words; "Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory."


dirtywhitecandy said...

I can't remember where it's from but I like this one:
Why do we write? Because it isn't there.

DOT said...

Good quote and not one I'd heard of. It's by Thoms Berger, American novelist, b. 1924, who most famously wrote Little Big Man