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A Phoenix Fiction Writer Rising From The Ashes of Nonfiction


About Writing

A lot of famous writers have talked about their craft. So I collect some of the more pithy, or pissy, comments.


Some Other Sources

On Writing

What DI Know?


Quotes About Writing
"We should not write so that it is possible for [the reader] to understand us, but so that it is impossible for him to misunderstand us."
Quintilian, Book VIII, 2, 24.
"It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader. If you do not believe in the characters or the story you are doing at that moment with all your mind, strength, and will, if you don't feel joy and excitement while writing it, then you're wasting good white paper, even if it sells, because there are other ways in which a writer can bring in the rent money besides writing bad or phony stories."
Paul Gallico, Confessions of a Story Writer, 1946
"You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair - the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page. "
Stephen King, "On Writing" 2000.
Much of writing might be described as mental pregnancy with successive difficult deliveries.
J. B. Priestley, International Herald Tribune, January 3, 1978.
In the grown-up world, creative nonfiction is not expressive writing but rather communicative writing. And an axiom of communicative writing is that the reader does not automatically care about you (the writer), nor does she find you fascinating as a person, nor does she feel a deep natural interest in the same things that interest you. The reader, in fact, will feel about you, your subject, and your essay only what your written words themselves induce her to feel.
David Foster Wallace
"It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."
Robert Benchley, quoted in Nathaniel Benchley's biography of Robert Benchley, ch. 1 (1955).
"Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent."
James Baldwin "Autobiographical Notes" (1952); republished in Notes of a Native Son (1955).
Novels are very long, and long novels are very, very long. It's just a hell of a lot of man-hours. I tend to just go in there, and if it comes, it comes. A morning when I write not a single word doesn't worry me too much. If I come up against a brick wall, I'll just go and play snooker or something or sleep on it, and my subconscious will fix it for me. Usually, it's a journey without maps but a journey with a destination, so I know how it's going to begin and I know how it's going to end, but I don't know how I'm going to get from one to the other. That, really, is the struggle of the novel.
Martin Amis, Interview magazine, May 1995
Thus, in a real sense, I am constantly writing autobiography, but I have to turn it into fiction in order to give it credibility.
Katherine Paterson, The Spying Heart (1989).
"…when you are my age, you don't want to be alone as much as a writer has to be."
Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Alice Munro explaining why she intended to retire from writing (The Writer's Chronicle, pg 44, December, 2013).
I have made this [letter] longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
Blaise Pascal, "Lettres provinciales", letter 16, 1657.
"The sailor would just tell me his adventures and I would rewrite them trying to use his own words and in the first person, as if he were the one who was writing. When the work was published as a serial in a newspaper, one part each day for two weeks, it was signed by the sailor, not by me. It wasn't until twenty years later that it was re-published and people found out I had written it. No editor realized that it was good until after I had written One Hundred Years of Solitude."
Garcia Marquez
"All over-the-top gonzo sex plots aside, these days the only mass-market literary characters that seem to enjoy fucking at all are psychopaths, sadomasochists and vampires."
Mark R. Brand, The Weeklings, 2013



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