Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work" Ed by Marie Arana

Published: 2003
Read: 2011
Genre: Non-fiction: writing_authors
Rating: 4
Review: Goodreads

A collection of essays written by various authors for the Washington Post Book World.  Each essay is preceded by a brief profile of his or her career by Arana.  I found this book to be interesting and a quick read.  Gave me a boatload of books to add to my "wish list".

Favorite Quotes

From the editor:
"Writers learn their craft, above all, from the work of other writers.  From reading.  They learn it from immersing themselves in books.  They do not learn it from classrooms or workshops or manuals - the cannot be programmed to perform.  It is, in essence, lonely work: isolation is what they must learn to savor..... Come what may, they must go to their desks alone."

Anthony Trollope
"My task is to chronicle those little daily lacerations upon the spirit."

Susan Minot
"I began to write on my own - prose poetry, journal writing.  It was the first time I had a room of m own, and I found that writing was a way both of being alone and of finding out what was going on inside myself.....I wrote pages of stream of consciousness long into the night....I began to rely so much on writing that I was living a double life - one the world and one on the page.  The one on the page was more intense, more satisfying and for a long time much more real."

Nadine Gordimer
"The only school for a writer is the library - reading, reading...Ours is the most solitary of occupations....For me, writing has been and is the exploration of life.  That is why my novels and stories are what I call open-ended..."

Erica Jong
"The act of writing always made me feel centered and whole....It is my meditation, my medicine, my prayer, my solace.  If you are relentlessly honest about what you feel and fear, you can be a mouthpiece for something more than your own feelings.  People are remarkably similar at the heart level - where it counts.  Writers are born to voice what we all feel.  That is the gift.  And we keep it alive by giving it away."

"The utter trust that exists between reader and author is like the trust between lovers."

"Generosity is the soul of writing.  You write to give something.  To yourself.  To your reader.  To God.

Craig Nova
"When a writer is successful in using a story taken from experience, it is not told exactly the way it happened, but in the way that reveals, through all one's beliefs, hopes and fears, how the event should have happened."

Jayne Anne Phillips
"Writers begin as readers, and words become a means of survival."

E.L. Doctorow
"But wherever books begin....the work itself is hard and slow, and the writer's illumination becomes a taskmaster, a ruling discipline, jealously guarding the mind from all other, and necessarily errant, private excitements until the book is done."

"You can't write the book until you find the voice for it."

Richard Selzer
"A good deal of what I do is in the form of a diary."

"Writing, for me, is what purring is for a cat.  It represents pure pleasure, and there is no purer pleasure than chasing after the nature of a bodily thing and nailing it to a page."

"There's a good deal of waiting around in writing."

E.O. Wilson
"The central role of literature is the transmission of the details of human experience by artifice that intensifies aesthetic and emotional response."

Frances Fitzgerald
"To a writer, a book is much more than a job.  It's a companion - albeit a temperamental one you would sometimes like to strangle.  It's a virtual world you can call any time - a world with its own landscapes, its own cast of characters, its problems and its epiphanies.  Finishing it means that this world must disappear, this companion must go, and it will be a long time before you can find a replacement."

"Then too starting a book is almost as bad as finishing one.  There are just too man blank spaces, too many possibilities.  A book becomes fun only when it fills out a bit and begins making its own demands."

Michael Chabon
"Literature, like magic, has always been about the handling of secrets, about the pain, the destruction and the marvelous liberation that can result when they are revealed.  Telling the truth, when the truth matters most, is almost always a frightening prospect....if a writer submits his work to an internal censor long before anyone else can get their hands on it, the result is pallid, inanimate, a lump of earth."

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