Considering how popular my last quotes post was and how hard I’m trying to revive the blog, I thought a sequel was in order. Luckily for me, there is no shortage of sage remarks on the life and times of writers. Salud!
If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.
-H. G. Wells
I like the image of attacking a misbehaving manuscript (since there are times I’m tempted give up on mine and delete all traces of its existence). And Wells is right about it being helpful to hop out your routine to jumpstart your work. Some of my best stuff has come out of times when I’ve been writing at odd times or in odd circumstances.
Don’t ask a writer about what he’s working on. It’s like asking someone with cancer about the prognosis of his disease.
Unless you’re one of my editors, if you ask about what I’m working on, all you get is a tight smile and a vaguely nervous, slightly annoyed look. It’s not pretty.
There is a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer.
Yeah…Most people don’t hear about grisly murders, horrific deaths, and the misfortunes of their friends, then go “Huh. I could use that.”
Don’t tell us petty stories of our own pettiness…Go back where there are temples and jungles and all manner of unknown things , where there are mountains whose summits have never been scaled, rivers who sources have never been reached, deserts whose sands have never been crossed.
I miss that about today’s writing. I end up reading a lot of 19th century fiction and being slightly in awe of the spirit of adventure and the hope for the future that went into them. Can we go back to that now? Please?
I know no person so perfectly disagreeable and even dangerous as an author.
-King William IV
Hmmm…I like “dangerous.” And it’s quite true. We can be very dangerous (“the pen is mightier than the sword”). And also highly disagreeable, especially if forced to get up before 8 a.m.
Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect that it is when you can write most entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of another person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page.
I haven’t mastered this yet, and probably never will. All of my character have some part of me in them. But it would be an amazing skill to have, and I’m in awe of the writers that can do it.