I’m busy writing a short story that decided it couldn’t wait and trying to pre-load meaty posts for this long winter writing season. So I shall foist you off on other, wiser people who had quite good things to say to writers such as ourselves. This is a small collection of quotes I’ve gathered over some years and meant to turn into a Dojo article someday. They need no help from me: they can stand alone.
“You ask yourself the following question: To what questions in life have I not yet found a satisfactory answer?”
-Holly Lisle, “Finding Your Themes“
“An American editor worries his hair gray to see that no typographical mistakes appear on the page of his magazine. The Chinese editor is wiser than that. He wants to leave his readers the supreme satisfaction of discovering a few typographical mistakes for themselves.”
-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living
“There is a curious thing that one feels sometimes. When you are considering a subject, suddenly a whole train of reasoning comes before you like a flash of light. You see it all, yet it takes you perhaps two hours to put on paper all that has occurred to your mind in an instant. Every part of the subject, the bearings of all its parts upon each other, and all the consequences are there before you.”
-Lord Wellington, quoted in John Keegan’s The Mask of Command
“A writer of fiction, a professional liar, is paradoxically obsessed with what is true….. the unit of truth, at least for a fiction writer, is the human animal, belonging to the species Homo sapiens, unchanged for at least 100,000 years.
“Fiction, in its groping way, is drawn to those moments of discomfort when society asks more than its individual members can, or wish to, provide. Ordinary people experiencing friction on the page is what warms our hands and hearts as we write.”
-John Updike, quoted in Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate
If at least one of those didn’t make your Muse sit up and take notice, then I despair of your Muse.