William Lewis Safire (December 17, 1929 – September 27, 2009)
Composition is a discipline; it forces us to think. If you want to ‘get in touch with your feelings,’ fine — talk to yourself; we all do. But, if you want to communicate with another thinking human being, get in touch with your thoughts. Put them in order; give them a purpose; use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce. The secret way to do this is to write it down and then cut out the confusing parts.
Dani Shapiro (April 10, 1962 -)
When writers who are just starting out ask me when it gets easier, my answer is never. It never gets easier. I don’t want to scare them, so I rarely say more than that, but the truth is that, if anything, it gets harder. The writing life isn’t just filled with predictable uncertainties but with the awareness that we are always starting over again. That everything we ever write will be flawed. We may have written one book, or many, but all we know — if we know anything at all — is how to write the book we’re writing. All novels are failures. Perfection itself would be a failure. All we can hope is that we will fail better. That we won’t succumb to fear of the unknown. That we will not fall prey to the easy enchantments of repeating what may have worked in the past. I try to remember that the job — as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it. Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt — spectacularly, brazenly — into the unknown
Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916)
There it is round you. Don’t pass it by — the immediate, the real, the only, the yours, the novelist’s that it waits for. Take hold of it and keep hold, and let it pull you where it will.
Virginia Woolf (January 25, 1882 – March 28, 1941)
So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery.
Jane Kenyon (May 23, 1947–April 22, 1995)
Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours… Tell the whole truth. Don’t be lazy, don’t be afraid. Close the critic out when you are drafting something new. Take chances in the interest of clarity of emotion.
Ann Patchett (December 2, 1963 -)
You don’t step out of the stream of your life to do your work. Work was the life, and who you were as a mother, teacher, friend, citizen, activist, and artist was all the same person. People like to ask me if writing can be taught, and I say yes. I can teach you how to write a better sentence, how to write dialogue, maybe even how to construct a plot. But I can’t teach you how to have something to say.
Donald Andrew Hall Hall (September 20, 1928 – June 23, 2018)
The great pleasure of being a writer is in the act of writing, and surely there is some pleasure in being published and being praised. I don’t mean to be complacent about what I have some of. But the greater pleasure is in the act. When you lose yourself in your work, and you feel at one with it, it is like love.
🎂Happy Birthday Donald Andrew Hall. In Memoriam🌹