Monday, November 30, 2015

The Schlemiel Story

The schlemiel story is a genre I always thought I'd avoid if I were an editor, for it has seemed to me that stories about losers, twerps, dullards, and schnooks would be of interest only to an audience of losers, twerps, dullards, and schnooks, at best, and no such people would be reading anything I edited.

Robert Silverberg

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How Many Highly Creative Novelists Are Bipolar?

Apparently, it's in fashion again--the notion that the creative impulse, with its accompanying emotional difficulties, is merely the product of a psychology disorder. The current favorite diagnosis for artists and novelists is bipolar disorder--a condition that used to be called manic depression.

Dennis Palumbo 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Novels Without Plots

Starting in the late 1960s and continuing through the 1980s, plot became a dirty word in literary circles. Fiction lost its way. A great novel comes when there is beauty of language, illumination of character and a great plot.

Dennis Lehane

Friday, November 27, 2015

Creating Dialogue in Fiction

When I write dialogue, I feel as though I'm merely the typist, transcribing what the characters say inside my head. I don't have the sense that I'm making anything up.

Elizabeth Berg 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Writer Kicking Alcohol Addiction

I was released four days ago after 40 days in the drunk looney bin. Turned myself in for treatment to kick alcohol and light drugs right after the July 4th [1980] weekend, which I barely remember. Detoxed at Washington Hospital Center and then spent a month at a plush drunk tank for such folks. Feel better than I have in a long time and have experienced no strange cravings. Believe I'm gonna be okay.

Larry L. King 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Prolific Mr. Asimov

I keep to what amounts to a seventy-hour week, if you count all the ancillary jobs of proofreading, indexing, research and so on. In the past six years, I have averaged a book a month. I'm not sure if my work habits should be imitated. I don't have set hours for working. I just write whenever I feel like, but I feel like it all the time. I do very little research, because I have been reading avidly all my life and remember virtually everything I read. To back me up, however, I have developed a personal reference library in my office of some two thousand books or so in all fields.

Isaac Asimov 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Making Real Money as a Writer

You would-be Thomas Wolfes and Gertrude Steins out there should understand one thing above all: likely you ain't gonna make no money as a writer. Real money I mean.

Larry L. King 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Overcoming Literary Rejection

I was trying to get my work published, first with poetry, then with articles and stories. But they got nowhere at all. There was a steady flow of rejection slips. Once in awhile, a handwritten word, "Sorry, thanks, try us again." The stories, two-hundred and fifty of them a week, were, with one exception, amazingly bad. But I thought, these people have made this effort. You can really only judge a writer by his best work. Maybe these are all just lapses. I wrote, "Sorry, try us again," on all of them. I had to stop writing the notes.

Louis L'Amour 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Writing as the Worst Job in the World

The worst job in the world is writing. You're alone, you're with yourself, and either you trust your own judgment or you don't. And if your judgment is questioned enough times, you begin to question your own judgment as a writer. If enough people turn you down, you begin to question your own skill. Who else do you have to depend on? It's you against them.

Alan Landsburg 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Aging Writer

The only thing, I think, that happens to a writer as the years go by is a disturbing sense of impatience that time grows short. There's a built-in egotism to this. The quiet desperation a writer feels that he has yet to write the definitive play or book inside his head. It also assumes that a public waits with baited breath for his final and comprehensive word.

Rod Serling 

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Harm Sociologists Have Done to the English Language

The vast majority of sociologists write in a language that has to be learned almost like Esperanto. It has a private vocabulary which, in addition to strictly sociological terms, includes new words for the commonest actions, feelings and circumstances. It has the beginnings of a new grammar and syntax, much inferior to English grammar in force and precision. So far it has an effect on standard English, the effect is largely pernicious.

Malcom Cowley 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Rare Creative Writing Student Who Can Write Creatively

I think that out of seven years of teaching at the University of Pennsylvania I found maybe two students who had their own voice, in my judgment. There were lots who were competent but only two who were startling.

Paula Fox 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Should Writers Be Critics As Well?

Every time a writer tells the truth about a manuscript (or book), to a friend-author, he loses that friend, or sees that friendship dim and fade away to a ghost of what it was formerly. Every time a writer tells the truth about a manuscript (or book), to a stranger-author, he makes an enemy. If the writer loves his friend and fears to lose him, he lies to his friend. But what's the good of straining himself to lie to a stranger? And, with like insistence, what's the good of making enemies anyway?

Jack London

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Plight of the Creative Writing Teacher

Creative writing teachers, poor souls, must immerse themselves in slop and take it seriously. It is probably impossible to teach anyone to be a good writer. You can teach people how to read, possibly.

William H. Gass

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Discouraging Word For Aspiring Novelists

I think aspiring writers need as much discouragement as we can muster. Nobody should undertake the life of a fiction writer--so unrenumerative, so maddeningly beset by career vagaries--who has any other choice in the matter. Learn a trade! Flannery O'Conner said it best: "People are always asking me if the university stifles writers. I reply that it hasn't stifled enough of them."

Gerald Howard 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Creative Writing Student

When I went to writing school, I craved rules. I craved a mentor, and the revelation of secrets, and the permission to write scads, and most of all I craved the confirmation that I could write. In other words, I was like practically everyone else.

Bonnie Friedman 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Rough Time of Life For Writers

I believe that for many writers, the hardest time is that dead spot after college (where they're wonder-children, made much of) and before their first published work.

Anne Tyler

Friday, November 13, 2015

Searching For a Way to teach Creative Writing

Some well-known writers are disdainful of anyone being able to teach creative writing in a meaningful way. They fear that what is being taught is mechanical "factory fiction" rather than worthwhile art that reflects the human condition in an entertaining way. In my view, this is a disingenuous attitude, because books or classes in creative writing can only point the way. There is no magic formula, and the ambitious but uninspired writer who searches for it will never succeed. Studying writing through analysis, or, more accurately diagnosis, is not a justification for encouraging or perpetuating mediocrity.

Peter Rubie

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Successful Novelists Ignored by the Manhattan Literary World

Isaac Asimov complained that none of his books were ever reviewed in The New Yorker, even though, as a well-known writer, he had been mentioned in the magazine many times. The reason: he was not taken seriously as a novelist because most of his writing was science fiction. Wallace Stegner, a brilliant novelist and nonfiction writer who lived in and wrote about the American West, was never reviewed in the New York Times even though his novels, Angle of Repose (1971) and Spectator Bird (l976), won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award respectively. Why did the Times ignore Wallace Stegner? He was not part of the Manhattan literary scene.

Jim Fisher 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Difficulty of Being a Woman Novelist Who Is Married

Men writers who are married to non-working wives--that is, wives who stay at home--have a certain advantage. Every writer needs a wife!--someone to stand guard, to cook meals, to deal with the immediate problems of house and children, and keep them out of their husbands' hair. It's more difficult for women writers, who have to do all these chores plus their writing.

Phyllis A. Whitney 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Stealing From Other Novelists

Robert Penn Warren's All The King's Men is one of my favorite books. I read a lot of southern writers--Faulkner, Eudora Welty--and a lot of Dickens. It seems I stole something from everybody I ever read. I hope in a good way.

Rick Bragg 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Writing With Readers in Mind

Too many male writers are writing for the critics. I don't write for men with pipes and leather on their elbows. I write for the public.

Jacqueline Susann (Author of Valley of the Dolls)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Isaac Asimov and his Readers

I will be perfectly willing to autograph and oblige my readers in any way possible. I don't know what other writers are like, but I am always aware that it is from my readers that my income ultimately derives.

Isaac Asimov 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Are Extremely Creative Writers Mentally Unbalanced?

The writer possess a reality of a different order than that of the ordinary man. His ego is entirely identified with his creative processes which for him constitutes the entire meaning and purpose of his life. He is known to be emotionally unstable, neurotic, and often appears mentally unbalanced or even psychotic. Genius and madness have from time immemorial been associated, and the lives of the creative artists and geniuses in all fields do reveal an overwhelming preponderance for erratic conduct, emotional stress and irrational reactions with definite psychic disturbances manifested in conflict, struggle and mental disorder.

Dr. Beatrice Hinkle 

When a Writer Faces the Blank Page

Writing should be a snap. We've been telling stories all our lives; we know all of these words; we've got a pen and some paper and a million ideas. We fiddle. We put on some music. We scribble. We stare out the window. We remember we have that wedding to go to next August. Better buy a gift soon. We smooth out the paper. We consider how none of our errands are getting done while we sit. We get up. And now we know what writers already know: that writing is difficult, and it is a disorderly and unnerving enterprise, and because it is, we all have, it seems, developed an unnatural resistance to the blank page.

John Dufresne 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Is Suicide a Career Move For Writers?

Anne Sexton (who killed herself) saw Sylvia Plath's suicide as a career move, one that had been taken from her because Plath beat her to it. Sexton say suicide as a kind of death that had a lot of resonance for a literary career and also helped with the marketing of the work. Her prediction about Sylvia Plath came true: Plath was relatively unknown when she killed herself, but shortly after that she becaqme the best-known woman writer in American and probably England as well.

Diane Wood Middlebrook 

A Writer Who Got an Early Start

I didn't begin to write out of political awareness. I'd been writing since I was nine years old. I published my first adult story when I was fifteen.

Nadine Gordimer

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Non-Writing Writer

The trail of literary history is littered with those writers who fell along the way because the anxiety of trying to write paralyzed their hand. Many non-writing writers are gifted. The best writers I know teach school and sell real estate. Some still plan to write "someday." Others have given up altogether. Their block lies not with their ability or skill but with their nerve.

Ralph Keyes 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Celebrity-Authored Memoirs

Publishers love celebrity authors because they don't have to spend money to make them famous. Celebrity worshippers will come to the book signing events for photo-ops and autographs. The book on sale is nothing more than a souvenir. Celebrity "journalists" invite these semi-literates to appear on TV talk shows to talk about and promote their vacuous, ghost-written memoirs.

Jim Fisher

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cliche`s in Pulp Fiction

The really popular books are full of cliche`s, people "flushing with anger" or "going pale with fear." Popular authors bring nothing new to their readers, and I have no wish to belong to that type of popular writer.

Graham Greene

The Setting For a Novel

Many novelists make use of their hometown or the various places in which they have lived. And why not? These are places one knows best.

Robert DiMaria 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Advantages of Being a Full Time Book Writer

I am a writer as I might have been a doctor or a lawyer. It is so pleasant a profession that it is not surprising that a vast number of persons adopt it who have no qualifications for it. It is exciting and various. The writer is free to work in whatever place and whatever time he chooses; his is free to idle if he feels ill or dispirited.

W. Somerset Maugham 

In a Novel Things Have to Happen to Have a Story

Since a novel is a recreation of reality, its theme has to be dramatized, i.e., presented in terms of action. A story in which nothing happens is not a story. A store whose events are haphazard and accidental is either an inept conglomeration or, at best, a chronicle, a memoir, a reportorial recording, not a novel. It is realism that demands a plot structure in a novel.

Ayn Rand