We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.
If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: find it.
This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.
I finished my first book seventy-six years ago. I offered it to every publisher on the English-speaking earth I had ever heard of. Their refusals were unanimous: and it did not get into print until, fifty years later; publishers would publish anything that had my name on it.
Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.
An author who gives a manager or publisher any rights in his work except those immediately and specifically required for its publication or performance is for business purposes an imbecile.
You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success, but only if you persist.
Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.
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.
Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers…
I have rewritten, often several times, every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.
Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.
Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.
Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.
The first draft of anything is shit.
For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me.
Only a mediocre person is always at his best.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.
Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it
Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.
The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.
You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.
Borges said there are only four stories to tell: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power and the voyage. All of us writers rewrite these same stories ad infinitum.
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.
Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
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