Thursday, March 31, 2016

Romanticizing Novelists Who Die Young

Athletes and dancers accept that their carers will be short. But--rightly or wrongly--we think of writing as a spiritual exercise, a project coextensive with the writer's life. When such a project is cut off early, it will always feel incomplete, a glorious cathedral nonetheless missing a spire. The idea, like the image, is itself highly romantic. But it might help explain what is so poignant about a dead young writer.

Benjamin Moser 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Are Writers Snobs?

There seems to be a lot of snobbery with people who write, even those who write well. What I consider special is a good plumber or auto mechanic.

Charles Bukowski

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Graphic Novel: Mainly Visual Art Or Literature?

"Graphic Novel" is a perfectly serviceable phrase, but it expresses an unmistakable and unfortunate bias, emphasizing the literary identify of a given book at the expense of its visual essence.

A. O. Scott 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Writers Who Die Young

When we mourn the early death of a writer who was just beginning to find his or her true voice, we're also mourning, by implication, every work that author never finished, or never started.

Dana Stevens

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Got An Idea For a Book Or Article?

Ask a professional writer about ideas. In all likelihood, he'll ask, "Which ideas?" because he's got a million of them, and his biggest problem is choosing one.

Richard Curtis

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Inspiration to Write

A lot of young writers wait for inspiration. The inspiration only hits you at the desk.

Robert Anderson

Friday, March 25, 2016

Are We All Creative?

Creativity is as natural to human beings as having blood and bone.

Julia Cameron

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Biographies Of History's Supporting Figures

One of the great challenges of setting down the history of marginalized people is how to amass enough information to produce a clear picture of subjects who didn't write letters themselves or only appeared in the letters of others, who didn't enter the public realm through the legal system or gain notoriety in other ways.

Annette Gordon-Reed

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Difficulty of Analyzing Books in The Humor Genre

No one ever questions the value of analyzing tragedy, but skepticism about breaking down comedy is a strangely enduring prejudice. Blame E. B. White. "Humor can be dissected, as a fog can,"he memorably groused, "but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the purely scientific mind."

Jason Zinoman 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Biographies of Artists

What is the point of reading biographies of artists? Critics have frequently come down hard on them. They contend that the details of a life are helpless to explain the majesty of art. What matters are not the despairing childhoods and difficult relationships, the questions of whether a particular artist was altruistic or plainly cruel--but the object that emerged in the end, an object unburdened by life, succeeding or failing on the basis of its appeal to the eye.

Deborah Solomon 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Commercial Versus Literary Fiction

I'm sure someone's already invented the app that turns commercial prose into literary prose. Because at one level, it's simply a lexical matter. Sentences that include the word "skein" or "susurration," or use in any form of the disgusting verb "to limn"--they're literary. A line like " 'Be quiet, Paul' snapped Louise," on the other hand--that's commercial…Good language is about nailing the details, pinning down reality. Sometimes literary language gets this done--more often, it doesn't.

James Parker 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Do You Enjoy Writing?

I have never been one of those "writing is fun" people. Writing has never been a pleasure for me.

Reynolds Price 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Writing Well Is Not Easy For Anyone

Writing is hard for everybody, and I mistrust writers who find it easy. And it's still hard for me after all these years, but that's probably a good sign that it is.

Roger Angell

Friday, March 18, 2016

Writers Never Die

Writers never die while people still quote them.

Gregory David Roberts

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Real Life Versus Fiction

Life and fiction are different. Life has no obligation to make things seem real, since things in life just are real, whether they're believable or not. In fiction, though, things and events have got to be handled in such a way as, no matter what, to make them seem believable and thus real. Life often doesn't do that work, since it doesn't have to.

Anne Larsen 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Inability To Write Well Is Not a Character Flaw

If you have difficulty with writing, do not conclude that there is something wrong with you. Writing should never be a test of self-esteem. If things are not going as you want, do not see it as proof of a flaw in your subconscious.

Ayn Rand

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Poetry: The Unread Genre

Most poetry won't be read even five years after it's published, let alone 20, and definitely not 100. Most poets won't find their work growing more and more noticed; they will find it growing less and less noticed, until it vanishes entirely from everything but a few water-stained notebooks in a cardboard box in the basement.

David Orr 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What Makes a Novel "Literary?" What Makes it "Commercial?"

Are we really supposed to rely on that crowd of editors and critics variously empowered to decide that is literary and what is commercial?…Isn't that literary-designating crowd broadly afflicted with pettiness, self-seriousness, social-class blinkers, an unsober love of language and erratic insightfulness? Sure. That great work gets overlooked and superfluous work gets deemed great is a given…Fiction that aims to, and often does, reach a wide audience and make a lot money is, in effect, Commercial Fiction. Fiction that, one argues, has a value that exceeds its commercial appeal would be Literary Fiction.

Rivka Galchen 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

George Orwell On Why He Writes

Why I write, sheer egoism. It is humbug to pretend that this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen--in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.

George Orwell 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Literary Sacred Cows

About the only person you can write badly of in literature and not hear about it is the white American Male, which must tell you something.

Charles Bukowski

Thursday, March 10, 2016

One Reason to Write Creatively

I write, as I believe all artists perform their art, to exorcise internal conflicts and supplant reality with something more shapely and gratifying.

Ira Levin

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Urge to Write

The aesthetic gift is a process that begins with conception, often exciting, goes through gestation, usually exhausting, and ends with birth, which is invariably laborious, protracted, and painful.

James M. Cain

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Getting Started as a Novelist

I wanted to write novels, but I thought it was presumptuous to think I could write them and get published, so I thought I'd better get a job. I had a friend in advertising. I went and talked to her. She was running around her office in a T-shirt, she was funny, was making a lot of money, and she said this is easy. So I said, Ok, I can do this while I'm trying to write novels.

James Patterson 

Monday, March 7, 2016

What is the Force Behind Being Creative?

What drives creativity is discomfort and even a degree of hardship. Genius doesn't require paradise.

Eric Weiner

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Reason to Write

The reason I write is to explain my life to myself. I've also discovered that when I do, I'm explaining other people's lives to them.

Pat Conroy

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Literary Sentences That Don't Add Up To Much

I think sometimes we give people a lot of credit just because they're writing nice sentences even if it isn't adding up to much.

James Patterson

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Style of An Insecure Writer

One of the first signs of insecure writers is the number of phrases they use to say what could be said in just a few words. Instead of "now" or "then," these writers use "at this point in time."

Richard Anderson

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Professor-Writer

Professors are often shy, timid and even fearful people, and under these circumstances, dull, difficult prose can function as a kind of protective camouflage.

Patricia Nelson Limerick

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Creating a Novel's Tone

The tone of a novel may be described in words like comic, wry, reflective, tongue-in-cheek, bittersweet, or in compounds such as incipient fear, sense of lurking evil and sense of unease.

Lesley Grant-Adamson 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Charles Bukowski On The Advantage Of Drinking Alone

I have been crawling through one of those depressive fits that seem to fall upon me. Please believe me, I am not trying to play the sensitive Artist bit--that's sickening. I only wish it wouldn't happen. It's just like all the walls fall down upon me. I've almost analyzed it--it happens mostly after I have been on a drunk with two or more people. I don't understand it--I can drink more, all by myself, and don't even awaken with a hangover.

Charles Bukowski