The Great Writers' Quote Thread

Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by Lucas, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    "Writing is about a blank piece of paper and leaving out what's not supposed to be there."

    -- John Prine (who passed away yesterday of COVID).

    For those of you who may not know who he was, John Prine was a singer/songwriter who won practically every songwriting award there was, as well as a few Grammies. He was a better songwriter than Bob Dylan, according to Dylan himself.
     
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  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    For those scratching their heads about my last post concerning John Prine's songwriting method, here's an amplification, excerpted from an interview that Geoffrey Himes had some time back:

    I take that to mean that the tune and the mood are already set, and it's just a question of finding the words that fit that tune and mood, and rejecting what doesn't. I think Paul Simon uses the same technique; he's on record saying that he writes the tune first, and then the lyrics.
     
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  3. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    "Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to." Mark Twain
     
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  4. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I loved John Prines work. May he RIP
    This a bit from one of his songs....
    When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
    Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
    I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
    Just five miles away from wherever I am.
     
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  5. Zeppo595

    Zeppo595 Senior Member

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    And also NOT live it. Since you need to step away and reflect and sit in a room alone to write. Like all really great and interesting things, like being human, writing is full of frustrating paradoxes.

    I think 'living life' can hurt a writer as much as not living it in terms of the potential for distraction that it causes.

    There are also good novels about characters who don't live life. That's an interesting theme to explore. Basically, I half agree with that quote.
     
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  6. Yaldabaoth

    Yaldabaoth Member

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    “Your head's like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune's all we are.”- Grant Morrison.

    “Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil... prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon..."- Terry Pratchett
     
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  7. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    "The man who lies asleep will never waken fame, and his desire." - DANTE
     
  8. nutkins

    nutkins New Member

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    once again, Mark Twain - with advice for writers...

    "Use the right word, not its second cousin."
     
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  9. oliverm

    oliverm New Member

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    My favorite quote - Never put a question mark where God puts a Period. - Richard Petty.
     
  10. Historical Science

    Historical Science Contributor Contributor

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    "You are not an estate agent or fashion retailer. Don't describe houses and clothes as if you were." - Mary Hoffman

    This is definitely something I need to remind myself often.
     
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  11. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    "If you want to be a writer, then be a writer, for God's sake. It's not that hard, and it doesn't require that much effort on a day to day basis. Find the time or make the time. Sit down, shut up and put your words together. Work at it and keep working at it. And if you need inspiration, think of yourself on your deathbed saying, 'Well, at least I watched a lot of TV'."

    [John Scalzi]
     
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  12. oliverm

    oliverm New Member

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  13. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you are finished reading one, you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer." - Ernest Hemingway
     
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  14. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Here's something that was on one of the "special features" segments of the film A Prairie Home Companion. It's a direct quote from Garrison Keillor on the subject of writing, and there's a lot of substance to it:

    "The life of writing is a good life. It's a lucky, lucky life. Writers complain too much about the difficulty of it. The difficulty of it is no more than the difficulty of being a dentist or being a teacher or doing any of a thousand other things. Weariness and gloom can strike anybody. It's not limited to writers.

    "It's a very good life, writing... for the very simple reason that writing is always a search for the particular. And that's where the happiness lies ... is in the details. Happiness lies in small, particular things. Gloom and depression are general, but happiness is always specific."
     
  15. Que

    Que Member

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    Here are a few of my favorites...

    The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. ~Mark Twain

    Good writing gives your reader the feeling of being rained upon, not the fact that it is raining,. ~ E.L. Doctorow

    How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love, hate, prejudice and passion slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the worst and best things in your life? When are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them? ~Ray Bradbury

    While putting sentences together, a subject I didn’t start with emerges, like Nessie rising out of the loch. I fight the monster, then acquiesce, and set a place for it at the table. And there, in revision, writing takes me where it wants me to go, for it knows how to make me disappear. ~Michael Klein

    There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe to have in your writing what you do not have in yourself. Nor can you keep whatever evil or shallowness you entertain in yourself out of your writing. ~Walt Whitman

    Words are only handles to carry the idea of something from writer to reader, not the thing itself. ~Billy Dean

    There is no Frigate like a book to take us lands away nor any coursers like a page of prancing Poetry. ~Emily Dickinson
     
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  16. Historical Science

    Historical Science Contributor Contributor

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    "A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit." - Richard Bach
     
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  17. Que

    Que Member

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    And Richard didn't. His Jonathan Seagull is one of my favorites.
     
  18. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    “The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world — and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such a topic are those of a bereaved lover.” Edgar Allan Poe
     
  19. Zeppo595

    Zeppo595 Senior Member

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    'WHATEVER DOES NOT KILL YOU MAKES YOU A BETTER WRITER' - Phillip Roth

    Obviously you can make an easy joke about this like 'not cancer!'

    But it really means whatever HELL you're in personally WILL help you in the end.
     
  20. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    "We have arrived at an intellectual chaos." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    “Truth is sacred; and if you tell the truth too often nobody will believe it.” GK Chesterton
     
  21. Cloudymoon

    Cloudymoon Member

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    Thanks for posting this. I was doubting some aspects of my WIP last night, but this quote has stirred and encouraged me.
    Cheers :blowkiss:
     
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  22. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    Lol, just read this one yesterday:

    “Like every book I never wrote, it is by far the best book I have ever written.” GK Chesterton.
     
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  23. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    This quote is from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. The main character is asked if he would support a writer's strike. He replies:

    "No, I don't think my conscience would let me support a strike like that. When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed."
     
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  24. Zeppo595

    Zeppo595 Senior Member

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    “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.” - Charles Bukowski

    I suppose it says something about my life that I'm looking to Bukowski quotes for inspiration. It's always the darkest periods of my life where I find comfort in his words.
     
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