Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Writing Quotes’ Category

“When I decided to stop writing about five years ago I did, as you say, sit down to reread the 31 books I’d published between 1959 and 2010. I wanted to see whether I’d wasted my time. You never can be sure, you know. My conclusion, after I’d finished, echoes the words spoken by an American boxing hero of mine, Joe Louis. He was world heavyweight champion from the time I was 4 until I was 16. He had been born in the Deep South, an impoverished black kid with no education to speak of, and even during the glory of the undefeated 12 years, when he defended his championship an astonishing 26 times, he stood aloof from language. So when he was asked upon his retirement about his long career, Joe sweetly summed it up in just 10 words. ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’”
Philip Roth
My Life as a Writer
2014 New York Times interview by Daniel Sandstrom 

 

Read Full Post »

“The process by which the idea for a play comes to me has always been something I really couldn’t pinpoint. A play just seems to materialize; like an apparition, it gets clearer and clearer and clearer. It’s very vague at first, as in the case of Streetcar, which came after Menagerie. I simply had the vision of a woman in her late youth. She was sitting in a chair all alone by a window with the moonlight streaming in on her desolate face, and she’d been stood up by the man she planned to marry.”
Tennessee Williams ( Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie)
The Paris Review 1981 interview by Dotson Radar

Read Full Post »

“What I’m really involved in when I’m writing is something that no one ever mentions when they see any play. Writing is like trying to make gunpowder out of chemicals. You have these words and sentences and the strange meanings and associations that are attached to the words and sentences, and you’re somehow cooking these things all up so that they suddenly explode and have a powerful effect. That’s what absorbs me from day to day in writing a play.”
Actor/Playwright/Screenwriter Wally Shawn
EsquireThe Secret Life of Wally Shawn by Don Shewey

Read Full Post »

“There’s no way to learn how to write a hit song. There’s no formula for it. You just have to have it inside of you.”
Beach Boys’ Al Jardine
Postcard from Big Sir by Rick Petreycik
Fretboard Journal 30

 

 

Read Full Post »

“Run fast, stand still. This, the lesson from lizards. For all writers. Observe almost any survival creature, you can see the same. Jump, run, freeze. It the ability to flick an eyelash, crack like a whip, vanish like steam, here this instant, gone the next—life teems the earth. And when that life is not rushing to escape, it is playing statues to do the same….What can we writers learn from lizards? In quickness is truth. The faster you blunt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are….In between scurries and flights, what? Be a chameleon, ink-blend, chromosome change with the landscape.”
Ray Bradbury
Zen in the Art of Writing

 

Read Full Post »

Writing Quote #41 (Tony Kushner)

“I get to say the thing that all writers must tell themselves to start writing—which is nobody has to see this thing. I can throw it away. I’m alone with it. No one has to know what an idiot I really am. And I can burn it. And if it don’t work, if it really sucks, I can pretend that it never really happened. “
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Tony Kushner (Lincoln, Munich) and Tony Award/Pulitzer Prize-winner
Tony Kushner interview at Dallas Art Museum

Read Full Post »

“Writing fiction or plays or poetry seems to me to be a very messy business. To be a writer requires an enormous tolerance for frustration, for anxiety, for self-doubt.”
Harry Crews

When writer/director Jeff Nichols mentioned in a recent interview that one of the books that influenced the writing of his film Mud was the Harry Crews book of essays A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, I knew it would be the perfect time to introduce some people to Crews and his writing. Since I grew up in Central Florida I became aware of the writer and University of Florida creative writing professor when I was about 20.

Crews, who died last year, was known back in the ’80s when I was in college as sort of a living Hemingway type character—with a dash of Hunter S. Thompson.  He was a Marine, a boxer, and a heavy drinker. Add in he was raised in a dirt poor, dysfunctional Southern family and Crews had all the ingredients of a character in a Flannery O’Connor story. Dennis Miller called him a “different breed of cat.”

“Part of my job as a teacher is first to try to help my students determine what’s worth writing and what is not. If they want to write science fiction or detective stories, that’s fine with me; I just want to make sure they know what they’re doing, to make sure they realize they are not writing the kind of fiction that can crush the heart of the living memory. I want to show them that they are writing nothing but entertainment. It is not that the greatest fiction, the kind I want them to spend their energies on, is not entertaining. It is. But it is so much more than that. It is the ‘more than entertainment’ that I want the writers who work with me to know about, be concerned with, even consumed by.”
Harry Crews
Essay Teaching and Writing in the University
From the book Florida Frenzy

Crews was born in Alma, Georgia—not far from the Okefenokee Swamp— in 1935 and his novels include A Feast of Snakes, The Gospel Singer and The Mulching of America. You can learn more about Crews and his work at harrycrews.org.

Related Post:
Writing Quote #1 (Flannery O’Connor)
Jeff Nichols’ Other Roots

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

This morning I was in Atlanta, Georgia and writer Pat Conroy was on my mind. On this road trip I’ve been listening to Conroy’s book on CD My Reading Life.  While he’s usually associated with South Carolina’s Lowcounty because many of his books (The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, South of Broad) are set in that region. And I believe he currently lives on Fripp Island near Beaufort, South Carolina, but Conroy was actually born in Atlanta and has spent much of his life living there.

But it was neither Atlanta or South Carolina, but Paris where Conroy wrote one of his most successful books, The Lords of Discipline.

“I would work on the novel during the day, beginning at nine in the morning. I would break for lunch, walk down to the market street on the rue de Seine, buy food at the charcuterie, stop for a baguette, and bring the food back to my room. After lunch I would nap for an hour, rise, wash my face with cold water, then resume writing until five o’clock. There was an exceptional sameness to these days, a habitualness that pleased me immensely. I tried to fill up five legal pages a day, a quota that translated directly into seven typewritten, double pages. At the end of the first week I had twenty-eight pages. I worked seven days a week during that four month period I lived in Paris, and before I left Grand Hotel des Balcons I would produce six hundred written pages. It would be the most productive time of my life.”
Pat Conroy on writing The Lords of Discipline
My Reading Life,
page 210

The book was published in 1980 and the movie version written by Thomas Pope and Loyd Fonvielle was released in 1983.

Related Posts:

Writing Quote #32 (Waiting for Tortoises)
Writing Quote #20 (Pat Conroy)

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.”
Steven Pressfield
The War of Art

Read Full Post »

Writing Quote #37 (Hemingway)

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Ernest Hemingway
72 of the Best Quotes for Writers

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: