Writers on Writing

jmmmmmnhbgRichard Price        

Anyone who’s a writer or a painter–or anything in the Arts–is no portrait of mental health. I have to be an artist, I have to take this lonliness and make it work–it’s not a happy or a proud choi8ce, it’s a desperate choice.

Alice Hoffman

In my experience, ill people become more themselves, as if once the excess was stripped away only the truest core of themselves remained. …Writers don’t choose their craft; they need to write in order to face the world.

Billy Collins

You read not to discover the poet, you read to discover yourself.

Elie Wiesel 

Authentic writers write even if there is little chance for them to be published; they write because they cannot do otherwise… Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit them to suffocate them.  …Writing, however, is becoming much more difficult.  Not to repeat oneself is every writer’s obsession.  Not to slide into sentimentality, not to imitate, not to spread oneself too thin.  To respect words that are heavy with their own past.  Every word both separates and links; it depends on the writer whether it becomes wound or balm, curse or promise. …writing is anything but easy.  (on the difficulty of Night)…and yet it was necessary to continue.  And speak without words; more precisely, without the proper words.  And to try to trust the silence that surrounds and transcends them.

Toni Morrison                                                                                                                                    If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. …Without writing you’re stuck with life.

Joan Didion                                                                                                                               All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was.

            Which was a writer.jmmmmmnbty

            By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want to what I fear.  Read More

Annie Dillard, from The Writing Life

“A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all.  Strange seizures beset us.  Frank Convoy loves his yo-yo tricks, Emily Dickinson her slant of light; Richard Seizer loves the glistening peritoneum, Faulkner the muddy bottm of a little girl’s drawers visible when she’s up a pear tree.

…your fascination with something no one else understands…it is up to you. …There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin.  You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.  ‘The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one’s own most intimate sensitivity.’  Anne Truitt, the sculptor, said this.  Thoreau said it another way: know your bone.  ‘Pursue, keep up with, circle round and round your life…Know your own bone: gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw at it still.’

Write as if you were dying. Read More