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'The long-lived books of tomorrow are concealed somewhere amongst the so-far unpublished MSS of today.'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

'My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best."

'Writing is a necessary joy. It's the only way to understand other people, their stories and hopes, their articulated or mute selves. The job of the writer is to put that into words which, afterwards, will seem inevitable.'

'A novel, in the end, is a container, a shape which you are trying to pour your story into.'

'I have learned so much from working with other poets, travelling and reading with them, spending days discussing poems in progress. There is the sense that we are all, as writers, part of something which is more powerful than any of us.'

'If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy.'

'Writing for me is just like building a chair, making an artifact. The idea is that you build, create a story and cobble it together. If it stands up, that's good. If it stands up, it's comfortable, it's a good story, a good chair.'

'I know that if I have been working on one paragraph and I have written it three times, it goes in the bin. Unless it comes straight out, it is wrong, it is awkward, it does not fit.'

'But if a stranger in a train asks me my occupation I never answer 'writer' for fear that he may go on to ask me what I write, and to answer 'poetry' would embarrass us both, for we both know that nobody can earn a living simply by writing poetry.'

'We live under continual threat of two equally fearful, but seemingly opposed destinies: unremitting banality and inconceivable terror. It is fantasy, served out in large rations by the popular arts, which allows most people to cope with these twin specters.'

'There ain't nothing more to write about and I'm rotten glad of it, because if I'd knowed what a trouble it was to make a book, I wouldn't a tackled it.'

in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

'By its very looseness, by its way of evoking rather than defining, suggesting rather than saying, English is a magnificent vehicle for emotional poetry.'

'All of a writer that matters is in the book or books. It is idiotic to be curious about the person.'

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