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Archive for the ‘Writing Quotes’ Category

“The novelist and short story writer John Cheever, when asked why he wrote did not say, ‘To show the upper middle class lives of Connecticut.’ He said, ‘To make sense out of my life.”
Wallace Stegner
On Teaching and Writing Fiction

P.S. Both Wallace Stegner and John Cheever had connections to Iowa. Stegner (who won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1972) was born in Lake Mills, Iowa and received his Master’s and Ph.D at the University of Iowa. He went on to start the writing program at Stanford University where his students (which he did not claim credit for) included Wendell Berry, Ken Kesey, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. Cheever, who won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction,  spent a semester teaching (and drinking with Raymond Carver) at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Scott W. Smith

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“If you want to perform five minutes of good comedy, write what you think is three hours of great comedy.”
Comedian/writer/director Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk with Me)
Interview with Tim Ferriss

P.S. One excellant documentary that shows Birbiglia’s quote in action is Comedian, Jerry Seinfeld’s love letter to comedy.

Related Link:
Jerry Seinfeld Interview: How to Write a Joke
Seinfeld on What Drives Comedy

Related posts:
‘Art is Work’—Milton Glaser
Frank Gehry on Creativity 
Stephen King’s Double Wide Trailer (Could be subtitled “Writing is Work.”)
Billy Wilder on Writing “(Writing) is blood, sweat, and tears, believe me. ”
Art & Fear
Off-Screen Quote #15 (Edgar Degas)
Screenwriter’s Work Ethic (tip #2)
The Secret to Being a Successful Screenwriter (Seriously)

Scott W. Smith

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“I want to put a group of characters (perhaps a pair; perhaps even just one) in some sort of predicament and then watch them try to work themselves free. My job isn’t to to help them work their way free, or manipulate them to safety, but to watch what happens and then write it down. The situation comes first. The characters—always flat and unfettered, to begin with—come next. Once these things are fixed in my mind, I begin to narrate. I often have an idea what the outcome may be, but I have never demanded of a set of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want then to do things their way. In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most cases, however, it’s something I never expected.”
Stephen King
On Writing, pages 164-165

P.S. A good example of this is King thought the writer in his novel Misery  (played by James Caan in the movie version)  would be killed by the crazy pig lady. But the writer had a will to live.

Related posts:
Screenwriting & Slavery to Freedom

Scott W. Smith

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“I began this whole writing enterprise with the idea that you go to work in the morning like a banker, then the work gets done. John Cheever used to tell how when he was a young man, living in New York with his wife, Mary, he’d put on his suit and hat every morning and get in the elevator with the other married men in his apartment building. These guys would all get out in the lobby but Cheever’d keep going down into the basement, where the super had let him set up a card table. It was so hot down there he had to strip to his underwear. So he’d sit in his boxers and write all morning, and at lunchtime he’d put his suit back on and take the elevator up with the other husbands—men used to come home for lunch in those days—and then he’d go back to the basement in his suit and strip down for the afternoon’s work. This was an important idea for me—that an artist was someone who worked, not some special being exempt from the claims of ordinary life.”
Writer Tobias Wolff (This Boy’s Life, The Night in Question)
the Paris Review, interviewed by Jack Livings

Related posts:
‘Art is Work’—Milton Glaser
Stephen J. Cannell’s Work Ethic
Honing Your Craft

Scott W. Smith

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“I was telling somebody yesterday that when I got to the airport in Cincinnati where I flew from that I ran into a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while. And he had seen the movie The Butler. And my friend Kevin— he and I hadn’t had the chance to talk about it since it came out— and he asked me, ‘Wil, has your life changed much since the movie came out?’ It made some money, it won some awards, it’s now played in 72 foreign countries. It became this wonderful, phenomenal hit. And I told Kevin my life is still the same. I’m still the same cat that I’ve always been. But I did make note of this little fact, that after the movie grosses exceeded 100 million dollars I heard from both of the ladies who turned me down for the high school prom. What’s up with that?”
Writer/reporter Wil Haygood (The Butler: A Witness to History)
Speaking at Valencia College on February 17, 2016
Haywood’s 2008 Washington Post article A Butler Well Served by This Election was the inspiration for the movie Lee Daniels’ The Butler written by Danny Strong.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the journey of Wil Haygood in telling the story The White House butler who served under eight Presidents of the United States.

Scott W. Smith

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“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career, that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”
To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee (1926-2016)

Scott W. Smith

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“To write well, I advise people to read widely. See how people who are successful and good get their results, but don’t copy them. And then you’ve got to write! We learn to write by writing, not by just facing an empty page and dreaming of the wonderful success we are going to have. I don’t think it matters much what you use as practice, it might be a short story, it might be the beginning of a novel, or it might just be something for the local magazine, but you must write and try and improve your writing all the time. Don’t think about it or talk about it, get the words down.”
Novelist PD James (1920-2014)
BBC News

P.S. Several movies and TV shows were based on James’ writings including Children of Men (2006). A movie that includes the intense scene below that also took a major technological feat to pull off. Shot by two time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman, Gravity), who received an Oscar-nomination this year for shooting The Revenant.

Scott W. Smith

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