Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.
The things of the night cannot be explained in the day.
That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best—make it all up—but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.
Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.
The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
Topics: Economics, Economy
God knows people who are paid to have attitudes toward things, professional critics, make me sick; camp following eunuchs of literature. They won’t even whore. They’re all virtuous and sterile. And how well meaning and high minded. But they’re all camp followers.
Topics: Critics, Criticism
I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it.
A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.
Topics: Writing, Authors & Writing, Writers
All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.
All the critics who could not make their reputations by discovering you are hoping to make them by predicting hopefully your approaching impotence, failure and general drying up of natural juices. Not a one will wish you luck or hope that you will keep on writing unless you have political affiliations in which case these will rally around and speak of you and Homer, Balzac, Zola and Link Steffens.
Topics: Criticism, Critics
From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reasons that no one knows?
In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary
I’ve seen a lot of patriots and they all died just like anybody else if it hurt bad enough and once they were dead their patriotism was only good for legends; it was bad for their prose and made them write bad poetry. If you are going to be a great patriot i.e. loyal to any existing order of government (not one who wishes to destroy the existing for something better) you want to be killed early if your life and works won’t stink.
No weapon has ever settled a moral problem. It can impose a solution but it cannot guarantee it to be a just one
Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer. Those who do not last are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no-quarter-given-and-no-quarter-received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die. Those who die or quit early and easy and with every good reason are preferred because they are understandable and human. Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.
The bombers … move W
Or don’t you like to write letters. I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.
Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you. – Hemingway, Ernest
He was just a coward and that was the worst luck any many could have.
They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.
The rich were dull and they drank too much or they played too much backgammon. They were dull and they were repetitious. He remembered poor Julian and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, “The very rich are different from you and me.” And how someone had said to Julian, “Yes, they have more money.”
Topics: Wealth, Riches
The shortest answer is doing the thing.
You know lots of criticism is written by characters who are very academic and think it is a sign you are worthless if you make jokes or kid or even clown. I wouldn’t kid Our Lord if he was on the cross. But I would attempt a joke with him if I ran into him chasing the money changers out of the temple.
Topics: Literature, Criticism
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.
Topics: Literature, Books
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Saul Bellow Canadian-born American Novelist
- Helen Keller American Author
- Katherine Anne Porter American Writer
- James Agee American Man of Letters
- Isaac Bashevis Singer Polish-born American Children’s Books Writer
- Washington Irving American Author
- Jane Addams American Social Reformer
- Robert W. Service Scottish Poet
- William Faulkner American Novelist
- Barbara Grizzuti Harrison American Journalist