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Writers And Writing Quotes


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The man who is asked by an author what he thinks of his work is put to the torture and is not obliged to speak the truth.

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.

The most lasting reputation I have is for an almost ferocious aggressiveness, when in fact I am amiable, indulgent, affectionate, shy and rather timid at heart.

The most original thing a writer can do is write like himself. It is also his most difficult task.

The obscurity of a writer is generally in proportion to his incapacity.

The pen is mightier than the sword.

The process of writing a book is infinitely more important than the book that is completed as a result of the writing, let alone the success or failure that book may have after it is written . . . the book is merely a symbol of the writing. In writing the book, I am living. I am growing. I am tapping myself. I am changing. The process is the product.

The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.

The truth is, we've not really developed a fiction that can accommodate the full tumult, the zaniness and crazed quality of modern experience.

The waste basket is a writer's best friend.

The work of Henry James has always seemed divisible by a simple dynastic arrangement into three reigns: James 1st, James 2nd, and the Old Pretender.

The writer is committed when he plunges to the very depths of himself with the intent to disclose, not his individuality, but his person in the complex society that conditions and supports him.

The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.

There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it, and to find sensible men to read it.

There are two kinds of writers - the great ones who can give you truths, and the lesser ones, who can only give you themselves.

There is an accuracy that defeats itself by the overemphasis of details. I often say that one must permit oneself, and quite advisedly and deliberately, a certain margin of misstatement.

There is but one art, to omit.

There is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.

There is today an extraordinary interest with the data of modern experience per se. Our absorption in our contemporary historical state is very high right now. It's not altogether unlike a similar situation in seventeenth century Holland, where wealthy merchants wanted their portraits done with all their blemishes included. It is the height of egotism, in a sense, to think even one's blemishes are of significance. So today Americans seem to want their writers to reveal all their weaknesses, their meannesses, to celebrate their very confusions. And they want it in the most direct possible way - they want it served up neat, as it were, without the filtering and generalizing power of fiction.

There should be two main objectives in ordinary prose writing: to convey a message and to include in it nothing that will distract the reader's attention or check his habitual pace of reading - he should feel that he is seated at ease in a taxi, not riding a temperamental horse through traffic.


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