Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Favorite Quotations about Writing With Which to Start the New Year

  1. "The quality of emotion is what stays with the reader long after the storyline is gone." - Ellen Howard

  2. "The world that is in me is the only world I have by which to grasp the world outside and as I write fiction, it is the chart by which I must steer." - Katherine Paterson

  3. "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." --E.L. Doctorow

  4. "The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business." --John Steinbeck

  5. "Novelists are people who have discovered that they can dampen their neuroses by writing make-believe. We will keep on doing that no matter what, while offering loftier explanations." --Kurt Vonnegut

  6. "Writers write to influence their readers...but always, at bottom, to be more themselves." -- Aldous Huxley

  7. "Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself." -- J.F. Stephen

  8. "The difference between the right and the not-so-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

  9. "Producing writing is not so much like filling a basin or pool once as it is like getting water to keep flowing through until it finally runs clear." --Peter Elbow

  10. "The power of fiction is to create empathy. It lifts you away from your chair and stuffs you gently down inside someone else’s own perspective. A newspaper could tell you that one hundred people, say, in an airplane, or in Israel, or in Iraq, have died today. And you can think to yourself, "How very sad," then turn the page and see how the Wildcats fared. But a novel could take just one of those hundred lives and show you exactly how it felt to be that person rising from bed in the morning, watching the desert light on the tile of her doorway and on the curve of her daughter’s cheek. You would taste that person’s breakfast, and love her family, and sort through her worries as your own, and know that a death in that household will be the end of the only life that someone will ever have. As important as yours. As important as mine."

From an essay titled "Jabberwocky" by Barbara Kingsolver in High Tide in Tucson.


Brook Stableford said...

This is truly inspiring. Barbara Kingsolver will be presenting writers' workshops at the San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico February 19-23. I just signed up. It looks like a rare opportunity to meet her. Are you going?

Suzanne Williams said...

I'm not going, but that sounds like a lot of fun. I've read and loved many of her books.

Heather Hedin Singh said...

Hi Suzanne--I love the first quote from Ellen Howard. I've been working on the emotional storyline in my WIP, so this quotation is a compact reminder of why emotions matter in fiction.
Thanks for posting!

Leslie said...

Thank you for this wonderful list of quotes, Suzanne. I really enjoyed reading each one and then 'guessing'/being delighted to see who said what afterwards. It truly is amazing how much of each writer's overall perspective lives within each finely tuned & quoted lines. The last one was the only one whose author I guessed - just 'sounds' like the melody of Kingsolver's prose with the poignant and pointed finish: "As important as yours. As important as mine."