I recently read a novel about four authors who were close friends, and the book’s author started each chapter with a quote from a well-known writer.
The quotes resonated with me, as I think they will for anyone who’s struggled to write – a book, an article, a paragraph, a sentence, or even just a phrase. Most of the quotes were from writers whose names I knew, but others, not.
But all of the quotes confirm what all writers know:
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
The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
– John Steinbeck
If my doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.
– Isaac Asimov
I’m not saying all publishers have to be literary, but some interest in books would help.
– A.N. Wilson
The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat’s mat is a story.
– John Le Carré
Contrary to what many of you may imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks – chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write.
– Fran Lebowitz
For those who can do it and keep their nerve, writing for a living still beats most real, grown-up jobs hands-down.
– Terence Blacker
There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.
– Anthony Trollope
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
– E.L. Doctorow
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector.
– Ernest Hemingway
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one know what they are.
– W. Somerset Maugham
A book is so much a part of oneself that in delivering it to the public, one feels as if one were pushing one’s own child out into the traffic.
– Quentin Bell
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
– Jack London
Critics have been described as people who go into the street after battle and shoot the wounded.
– Elinor Lipman