Writing & Writers
Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books.
--Jorge Luis Borges
Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.
Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader--not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.
I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die.
Writing a novel is like driving at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
"Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull."
--Rod Serling (Great quote, but wholly false in my opinion)
The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
I can't believe it! Reading and writing actually paid off!
--Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons
If a young writer can refrain from writing, he shouldn't hesitate to do so.
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.
--W. Somerset Maugham
Facts and truth really don't have much to do with each other.
-- William Faulkner
I do not believe the expenditure of $2.50 for a book entitles the purchaser to the personal friendship of the author.
--H.G. WellsIn certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.
--George OrwellI was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
I have made this [letter] longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.
--Jules Renard, French author (1864-1910)
--Joan DidionSome editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.
We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.
--W. Somerset Maugham
A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it.
--Walter Bagehot, 19th century British journalistI have never thought of writing for reputation and honor. What I have in my heart must come out; that is the reason why I compose.
--Beethoven (ok, this is about writing music, but same difference motivationally)Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
--Cyril Connolly, 20th century English intellectual, critic and novelist
--Daphne du MaurierA classic is a classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.
Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.
Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.
Tips on writing from John Steinbeck, along with a refutation of said tips. Good stuff.
Here, for fun, is an article on a wonderful and unexpected use of the semicolon, a punctuation mark I love (and don't consider remotely anachronistic or pretentious, notwithstanding what Mr. Vonnegut has to say about it above).
My June 2009 guest post on writing, For Writers: A Story & Three Tactics, describes my writing process and offers three tactics to help writers polish their writing.