Archives for posts with tag: writer’s quotes

Image

“In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols.

The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again.

This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid…” 

JOHN GARDNER, The Art of Fiction, available at Amazon.com

Image

“I take great pleasure in writing when I get a real voice going and I’m able to follow the voice and the character. It’s like being in a trance state. Once that had happened a few times, I knew I needed to write for the rest of my life. I began to crave the trance state. I would be able to return to the story anytime, and it would play out in front of me, almost effortlessly. Not many of my stories work out that way. Most of my work is simple persistence …

But if the trance happens, even though it’s been wonderful, I’m suspicious. It’s like an ecstatic love affair or fling that makes you think, it can’t be this good, it can’t be! And it never is. I always need to go back and reconfigure parts of the voice. So the control is working with the piece after it’s written, finding the end. The title’s always there, the beginning’s always there, sometimes I have to wait for the middle, and then I always write way past the end and wind up cutting off two pages.”

LOUISE ERDRICH, The Paris Review (Winter 2010)

Illustration: Portrait of Louise Erdrich (Chicago Magazine, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

Image
“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.” E.B. WHITE, Author of Charlotte’s Web

Photo: “Harpo Hiding” by Bridget Zinn, author of Poison

Image

“I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.” STEVE MARTIN, actor, writer, comedian, musician

Illustration: Homer Simpson dollar bill by Jeremy Hara, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Visit artist Jeremy Hara at his blog jeremyhara.blogspot.com.

Image
“Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy; I drop my fruits like a ripe tree. What the general reader or the critic makes of them is not my concern.” HENRY MILLER, American writer (1891-1980)

Painting: Henry Miller portrait, watercolor by Fabrizio Cassetta. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Image
In a 1956 PARIS REVIEW interview, interviewer Jean Stein asked William Faulkner about the difficulty some readers experienced trying to read his work. Here is the excerpt — priceless!

INTERVIEWER

Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

FAULKNER

Read it four times.

###

Find Faulkner’s PARIS REVIEW interview here.

PHOTO: Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and friend Joy (Laura Ramsey) ponder William Faulkner‘s novel THE SOUND AND THE FURY (1929) in “The Jet Set” (Mad Men, Season 2, Episode 11).

Image

“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.” WILLIAM FAULKNER

Photo: William Faulkner working on a screenplay in Hollywood, early 1940s by Alfred Eriss.

Image

“…in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original…” C.S. LEWIS

Narnia fans might enjoy spending 2013 with A Year with Aslan: Daily Reflections on the Chronicles of Narnia.  The book offers 365 of the most thought-provoking passages from all seven Narnia books, paired with questions that promote reflection on particular topics.

The 480-page A Year with Aslan is currently selling for about $15 at Amazon.com.

Image

“I have never started a novel — I mean, except the first, when I was starting a novel just to start a novel — I’ve never written one without rereading Victory [by Joseph Conrad]. It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing.” JOAN DIDION

Note: VICTORY by Joseph Conrad is available free in a variety of versions (including Kindle) at Project Gutenberg. Find it here. Conrad scholar Debra Romanick called the book, originally published in 1916, “…a highly complex allegorical work whose psychological landscape and narrative structure set the groundwork for the modern novel…”

Image

“One of the vital things for a writer who’s writing a book, which is a lengthy project and is going to take about a year, is how to keep the momentum going. It is the same with a young person writing an essay. They have got to write four or five or six pages. But when you are writing it for a year, you go away and you have to come back. I never come back to a blank page; I always finish about halfway through. To be confronted with a blank page is not very nice. But Hemingway, a great American writer, taught me the finest trick when you are doing a long book, which is, he simply said in his own words, “When you are going good, stop writing.” And that means that if everything’s going well and you know exactly where the end of the chapter’s going to go and you know just what the people are going to do, you don’t go on writing and writing until you come to the end of it, because when you do, then you say, well, where am I going to go next? And you get up and you walk away and you don’t want to come back because you don’t know where you want to go. But if you stop when you are going good, as Hemingway said…then you know what you are going to say next. You make yourself stop, put your pencil down and everything, and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next and that’s lovely and you have to try and do that. Every time, every day all the way through the year. If you stop when you are stuck, then you are in trouble!”

ROALD DAHL, author of The Witches

Photo: Roald Dahl (left) and Ernest Hemingway (right) in London during 1944.

Notes on Photo: As far as I’ve been able to learn, no one knows why Dahl and Hemingway were together in London during WWII. Dahl, a member of the British Royal Air Force, worked as something of a spy during the early war years — when Britain was fighting Germany and hoping the U.S. would enter the conflict. In this period (1939-1941), Dahl was stationed in Washington D.C., and attended social functions with politicians and other dignitaries, hoping to learn useful information about U.S. plans vis-a-vis the war.

At the time of the above photo, Dahl was 28 and Hemingway was 45 (though he looks much older). At first, I was puzzled when I looked at this photograph — thinking it couldn’t be Hemingway because “Papa” wasn’t that short. Then I realized that Roald Dahl must have been well above average in height to make Hemingway appear diminutive. Further research revealed that Dahl was 6’6″ — while Hemingway was 6 feet tall.

At this point in his career, Hemingway was a world-famous author and had written three of his most important books — The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls while Dahl had not yet written anything of note (Random House had published his children’s book entitled The Gremlins in 1943). Perhaps the young intelligence officer and aspiring author (Dahl) wangled a meeting with the old lion (Hemingway), hoping to gain some writing advice or just bask in the presence of the great author.

While Hemingway at some point (I’m not sure when) wrote about his method of stopping before you’re written out for the day, perhaps he gave this advice to Dahl first-hand when they were chumming around London in 1944. (For the record, Hemingway was in Europe from June-December 1944 and became involved in a number of allied initiatives while acting as a journalist.)