Quote of the day
21st June: It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practising it. Auden.
20th June: The moment a man sets his thoughts down on paper, however secretly, he is in a sense writing for publication. Raymond Chandler
19th June: Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. Truman Capote
18th June Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of. Kurt Vonnegut
17th June: I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plot-less, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible. A strong enough situation renders the whole question of plot moot. The most interesting situations can usually be expressed as a What-if question. Stephen King
16th June: Writers must observe with the Martian’s eye, that of a stranger in a strange land,and marvel at this and be horrified at that, while yet knowing they are part of it, and as prone to human error as anyone. Fay Weldon
15th June: Having just heard the inspirational Doreen Lawrence on the radio, who has used the title of “Still I Rise” for her new book, I am quoting the whole poem today:
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cau Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise. se I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
14th June Characters are never our puppets. They have to live their own lives. Frank Daniel
13th June The true use of speech is not so much to express our wants, as to conceal them. Goldsmith
12th June Any fool, may write a most valuable book by chance, if he will only tell us what he heard and saw with veracity. Thomas Gray.
11th June Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They came through you but not from you.
And though they are with you they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not their thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you,
For life goes not backwards, nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. (The Prophet. 1923 On children.) Kalil Gibran. Syrian writer and painter.
10th June Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. Frost
9th June GENIUS is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Edison.
8th June: Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not an expression of personality but an escape from personality. TS Eliot.
7th June: The artist must be in his work as God is in his creation: invisible and all-powerful; one must sense him but never see him. Flaubert
6th June: We may divide fictional characters into flat and round. The test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way. If it never surprises, it is flat. If it does not convince, it is flat pretending to be round. E.M. Forster
5th June: A truth that’s told with bad intent/ Beats all the lies you can invent. Blake
4th June: A fool can always find a greater fool to admire him. Boileau
So watch who you take feedback from.
3rd June: When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking. Einstein
2nd June: Art is meant to disturb, Science reassures. George Braque
1st June: Abuse is often of service. There is nothing so dangerous to an author as silence. – Samuel Johnson
Yes, when there is no response to that email at all…
31st May: Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. Hermann Hesse
I’m always searching for reasons why I follow this ridiculous profession. Perhaps this is a good enough reason
30th May: How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero’s mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn’t change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.
Ten drafts sounds about right to me, from experience….
29th May: Art is meant to disturb, Science reassures. George Braque
28th May: We were put to Dickens as children but it never quite took. That unremitting humanity soon had me cheesed off. Alan Bennet
27th May: A novel is balanced between a few true impressions and a multitude of false ones that make up most of what we call life Saul Bellow
26th May: Some books are undeservedly forgotten. None are undeservedly remembered. Auden
He did write this before Jordan started writing though….
25th May: Do not imagine Art is something which is designed to give gentle uplift and self-confidence. Art is not a brassiere. At least not in the English sense. But do not forget that brassiere is the French for life-jacket. Julian Barnes
24th May: Engrave this in your brain: EVERY WRITER GETS REJECTED. You will be no different. John Scalzi
23rd May: A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down…If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book, nothing can help him. – Edna St. Vincent Millay
Makes you wonder why we do it. Must write a post analysing why writers do it…
22nd May: This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address. – Barbara Kingsolver
Although you might be able to learn something from the rejection. Lord of the Flies was rejected 36 times, but when he made small changes (advised by his agent, having listened to the publishers) then it got published and became the classic it is today. I’m afraid I never really stop revising, even when the book is actually published, I can always see ways it could be better…
21st May: A poet’s hope: to be/Like some valley cheese,/Local, but prized everywhere. Auden
20th May: However great a man’s natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.” Jean Jacques Rousseau
19th May: Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger. Franklin Jones
18th May: Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself. James F. Stephan
17th May If you try to please audiences, uncritically accepting their tastes, it can only mean that you have no respect for them: that you simply want to collect their money. Andrei Tarkovsky
16th May: Follow the path of your aroused thought, and you will soon meet this infernal inscription: There is nothing so beautiful as that which does not exist. The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. Mary Heaton Vorse
15th May: I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within. Gustave Flaubert.
Oh thank you, Flaubert. I’m obviously exactly the same sort of writer. My fingers are just as useless: I keep hotting the wrang keys on the kayboard
14th May: Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you; Life is where things aren’t. ….Books make sense of life. The only problem is the lives they make sense of are other people’s lives, never your own. Julian Barnes.
From Flaubert’s Parrot. Cracking book. Now he’s brain brainy and emotional brainy. Julian Barnes. Not the parrot.
13th May: Lady Asquith: He’s very clever but he lets his brains go to his head.
There’s not just brain brainy anyway, there’s emotional brainy. It’s the latter you need most of all to be a writer. If you’re writing a novel about why Rome fell, you’ll need to be a bit of a historian. But you’ll need to understand your characters too.
12th May: Half my life is an act of revision. – John Irving
You should try writing for TV, far more than half is about revision. It’s only when you are on to the tenth draft and the feedback notes are asking you to re-insert what you had in the first draft that you know you’re getting somewhere.
All I have is a voice/To undo the folded lie/The romantic lie in the brain/Of the sensual man in the street/And the lie of Authority/Whose buildings grope the sky:/There is no such thing as state/And no one exists alone;/Hunger allows no choice/To the citizen or the police;/We must love one another or die. Auden.
10 May: “Easy writing makes hard reading.” Ernest Hemingway
Yep, and the opposite must be true then, so when the writing is hard, you know it’s worth it.
9th May: “Happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination.” Kant.
True, happiness can hit you on the toughest of days, if you are always open to it.
8th May: “If you haven’t got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you’ll only have to throw away the first three pages.” William Campbell Gault
That delete button will be red hot.
7th May: “Eternity’s a terrible thought. I mean, where’s it all going to end?” Tom Stoppard.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstein are dead is a brilliant play. Expect more gems from it.
6th May: “Many suffer from the incurable disease of writing, and it becomes chronic in their sick minds.” Juvenel.
Better make an appointment at the doctors…
5th May: “There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can’t screw it up.” Raymond Feist
Or commissioner, or their boss, or their boss’s boss. There are so many people who can screw up a script, I might as well do it right at the beginning.
4th May 2012: “True literature can exist only where it is created not by diligent and trustworthy officials, but by mad-men, heretics, dreamers, rebels, and sceptics.” Yevgeny Zamyatin.
Good, I’m at least one of them.
3rd May 2012: “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Einstein.
Great. Einstein approves plagiarism
2nd May 2012: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Virginia Woolf.
Unless she has children. Then every room is turned into a playroom. And there’s nothing like standing on a piece of Lego to make you creative with words!
1st May 2012: “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” Einstein.
That explains it, there’s too much noise in this house for me to be a great writer.