“I don’t think science fiction is a very good name for it, but it’s the name that we’ve got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I can get prickly and combative is if I’m just called a sci-fi writer. I’m not. I’m a novelist and poet. Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin
The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this, because it is the key to making art and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper (which, let’s face it, was once a towering tree crowned with leaves and a home to birds), I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.
“I remember once walking out hand in hand with a boy I knew, and it was summer, and suddenly before us was a field of gold. Gold as far as you could see. We knew we’d be rich forever. We filled our pockets and our hair. We were rolled in gold. We ran through the field laughing and our legs and feet were coated in yellow dust, so that we were like golden statues or golden gods. He kissed my feet, the boy I was with, and when he smiled, he had a gold tooth.
It was only a field of buttercups, but we were young.”
― Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook
Gerda Buddenbrooks berates her husband’s facile taste in music, and also snipes at easy reads.
“A sort of insipid optimism, which, if you met with it in literature, would make you throw down the book with an angry or sarcastic comment. Easy gratification of each unformed wish, prompt satisfaction before the will is even roused – that is what pretty music is like – and it is like nothing else in the world. It is mere flabby idealism.”
—-Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks
Vacuum. Chew coughdrops. Keep a folder full of fragments.
An eyelid darkening sideways
World as conspiracy.
Possible plot? A woman gets on a bus.
Suppose you threw a love affair and nobody came?
—–Lorrie Moore, How to Become a Writer Or, Have You Earned This Cliché?
A novel is really the only way you can be someone else.
“‘But I have an admiration for all his other work, for his dexterity and resource in handling langue, for his precision, for his subtlety in conveying the image of Dublin and her people, for his accuracy in setting down speech authentically, and for his enormous humour.’
As a spontaneous appraisal of literary work, this unpremeditated pronouncement was not bad at all, Mick thought. But after all, was he not a well-read man for his age and upbringing, and fearless enough in facing books in which might lurk danger to morals? He was.”
——- Mick Shaughnessy on James Joyce, from Flann O’Brien’s The Dalkey Archives.
“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”
“The only way out is in.”
― Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao