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‘In a writer there must always be two people - the writer and the critic.'

'I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.'

'People often ask whether my journalism interferes with my serious writing. As a matter of fact, my journalism is serious writing.'

'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.'

'The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader.'



'When you take stuff from one writer, it's plagiarism; but when you take it from many writers, it's research.'

'I write because I cannot NOT write.'

'All the information you need can be given in dialogue.'

'You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money's in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.'

'Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance too: bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you've no longer been bested by these events.'

'Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties.'

'If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.'

'What makes an exceptional poem/poet?
DNA, luck, reading a lot, independence of mind, solitude, silence, curiosity, patience, pride, humility'

Ask the Judge

'If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.'

'In the tale, in the telling, we are all one blood. Take the tale in your teeth, then, and bite till the blood runs, hoping it's not poison; and we will all come to the end together, and even to the beginning: living, as we do, in the middle.'

'The simple way to arrive at an appreciation of poetry is to read it - and then to read it again.'


'A book is a device to ignite the imagination.'

'One of the conditions for reading what is good is that we must not read what is bad; for life is short and time and energy are limited.'


'When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.'

'It is fatal to decide, intellectually, what good poetry is because you are then in honour bound to try to write it, instead of the poems that only you can write.'

'Books are acts of composition: you compose them. You make music: the music is called fiction.'

'Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.'

Anne Elliot in Persuasion

I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts.  Read more

'There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write.'

'Life being so short and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books.'


'The reader has certain rights. He bought your story. Think of this as an implicit contract. He's entitled to be entertained, instructed, amused; maybe all three. If he quits in the middle, or puts the book down feeling his time has been wasted, you're in violation.'

'I suggest that the only books which influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.'

'Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.'

'A best-seller was a book which somehow sold well simply because it was selling well.'

'Any magazine-cover hack can splash paint around wildly and call it a nightmare, or a witches sabbath or a portrait of the devil; but only a great painter can make such a thing really scare or ring true. That's because only a real artist knows the anatomy of the terrible, or the physiology of fear.'

'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 merely great intellect can produce prose, but not poetry, not one line.'

‘I write what I would like to read -what I think other women would like to read. If what I write makes a woman in the Canadian mountains cry and she writes and tells me about it, especially if she says, "I read it to Tom when he came in from work and he cried too", I feel I have succeeded.'

‘If you try to nail anything down, in the novel, either it kills the novel, or the novel gets up and walks away with the nail.'

'If you go too far in fantasy and break the string of logic, and become nonsensical, someone will surely remind you of your dereliction....Pound for pound, fantasy makes a tougher opponent for the creative person.'

'Much is written of the power of the Press, a power which may last but a day; by comparison little is heard of the power of books, which may endure for generations.'

‘The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do more, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down.'

'The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension.'

'You may be able to take a break from writing, but you won't be able to take a break from being a writer.'

‘What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?'

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