What the young American writer most often appears to feel is his ‘own’ misfortune. The injustice is done to ‘his’ talent if life is brutish and ignorant, if the world seems overcome by spasm and beer, or covered with detergent lathers and poisonous monoxides. This is apparently the only injustice he feels. Neither for himself nor for his fellows does he attack power and injustice directly and hotly. He simply defends his sensibilities
Saul Bellow, Some notes on recent American fiction (1963)
The American writer in the middle of the 20th century has his hands full in trying to understand, and then describe, and then make credible much of the American reality. It stupefies, it sickens, it infuriates, and finally it is even a kind of embarrassment to one’s own meager imagination. The actuality is continually outdoing our talents, and culture tosses up figures almost daily that are the envy of any novelist.
Philip Roth, Writing American Fiction
After all, one of life’s greatest pleasures is reading a book of perfect beauty; more pleasurable still is rereading that book; most pleasurable of all is lending it to the person one loves
William T. Vollman, Europe Central
You can write at any time people will leave you alone and not interrupt you. Or rather you can if you will be ruthless enough about it. But the best writing is certainly when you are in love.
The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of
the night to write.
Writing is simply something you must do. It’s rather like virtue in that it is its own reward. Writing is selfish and contradictory in its terms. First of all, you’re writing for an audience of one, you must please the one person you’re writing for. I don’t believe this business of “No, I don’t write for myself, I write for the public.”
That’s nonsense. Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself. He writes not to communicate with other people, but to communicate more assuredly with himself. It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.
A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.
Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.
Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.
Don’t look at the world with your hands in your pockets. To write about it you have to reach out and touch it.
Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?
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