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Quotes

'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.  Read more

'To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over...'

'Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.'

 

 


'A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating.'

'To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over....'

'It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.'

'Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents and everyone is writing a book.'

 

 

'An artist's sensitivity to criticism is, at least in part, an effort to keep unimpaired the zest, or confidence, or arrogance, which he needs to make creation possible; or an instinct to climb through his problems in his own way as he should, and must.'

'The historian records, but the novelist creates.'

'There is an element of autobiography in all fiction in that pain or distress, or pleasure, is based on the author's own. But in my case that is as far as it goes. My fiction may, now and again, illuminate aspects of the human condition, but I do not consciously set out to do so, I am a storyteller.'

'When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: "House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day."'

'A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone's knowledge of himself and the world around him.'
Dylan Thomas

'Writers aren't like plumbers. If you're a plumber, you fix one person's boiler in the morning, then you go and fix another in the afternoon. I didn't want to write a book unless I had something new to say - and it was good to live a little in between.'

The Guardian

'A good mystery keeps you up on Saturday night. A bad mystery puts you to sleep on Sunday afternoon. Either way, you come out ahead.'

‘New media and new forms of buying and lending are all very interesting, for all kinds of reasons, but one principle remains unchanged: authors must be paid fairly for their work. Any arrangement that doesn't acknowledge that principle is a bad one, and needs to be changed. That is our whole argument.'

Bestselling children’s author Philip Pullman, in his capacity as President-elect of the UK Society of Authors

'At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance - that is to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph.  Read more

'It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.'

'Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such as ting if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist or (sic) understand. For all one knows that demon is the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.

George Orwell, quoted by Robert McCrum, The Observer  Read more

‘There's a marvellous peace in not publishing... When you publish, the world thinks you owe something. If you don't publish, they don't know what you're doing. You can keep it for yourself.'

J D Salinger, two of whose stories have been stolen and published

'In nearly all good fiction, the basic - all but inescapable - plot form is this: A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.'

'Of the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful and worthy are the things we call Books!'

"Writers aren't like plumbers. If you're a plumber, you fix one person's boiler in the morning, then you go and fix another in the afternoon. I didn't want to write a book unless I had something new to say - and it was good to live a little in between."

Guardian

‘Books say: she did this because life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own,'

Julian Barnes in Flaubert’s Parrot

'Writing? It's not something you do for a living.  It's an outlandish idea. Particularly if you don't speak the language.'

 

'In nearly all good fiction, the basic - all but inescapable - plot form is this: A central character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.'

'Don't use metaphors in fantasy; your readers will take them literally. Or they may take them figuratively -- but if so, they'll also take your magics and transformations figuratively. Either way, you're in trouble.'

'When I read something saying I've not done anything as good as Catch 22 I'm tempted to reply: 'Who has?'

'Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader's desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That's called suspense.  Read more

'Plotting isn't like sex, because you can go back and adjust it afterwards. Whether you plan your story beforehand or not, if the climax turns out to be the revelation that the mad professor's anti-gravity device actually works, you must go back and silently delete all those flying cars buzzing around the city on page one.  Read more

'I have discovered that I cannot burn the candle at one end and write a book with the other.'

'The world is so great and rich, and life so full of variety, that you can never lack occasions for poems.'

'New media and new forms of buying and lending are all very interesting, for all kinds of reasons, but one principle remains unchanged: authors must be paid fairly for their work. Any arrangement that doesn't acknowledge that principle is a bad one, and needs to be changed. That is our whole argument.'

'Don't be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.'

‘With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his.'

'To have something to say is a question of sleepless nights and worry and endless ratiocination of a subject - of endless trying to dig out of the essential truth, the essential justice.'

‘I think what I love most [about writing] is that feeling that you really nailed something. I rarely feel it with a whole piece, but sometimes with a line you feel that it really captured what it is that you had inside you and you got it out for a stranger to read, someone who may never love you or meet you, but he or she is going to get that experience from that line. ‘

 

‘To write good SF today...you must push further and harder, reach deeper into your own mind until you break through into the strange and terrible country wherein live your own dreams.'

'It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.'

‘People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it.'

‘Fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.'

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