five great things someone else said: vol 3

One of my all-time favorite things about the Internet is the way so many magazines have created digital archives of their work. From décor and fashion to film and literature, I could make it a full-time job enjoying all this information and inspiration.

Lately, I’ve been loving the decades of archived Writers At Work interviews over at The Paris Review.

No two writers have the same method to their madness, but I am fascinated to learn about those who get up at 6am and write until noon Monday through Friday, those who rarely put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard) until the sun has set, and others who work as inspiration finds them.

Personally, I believe in what Twyla Tharpe calls the “creative habit.” (Highly rec the book of the same name.)

It would be awesome if all work easily came from fountains of inspiration, but in truth, it’s a lot more forced labor than whimsy.

So, here are five great things someone else said via The Paris Review.

Well, someone once wrote a definition of the difference between English and American humor….He said that the English treat the commonplace as if it were remarkable and the Americans treat the remarkable as if it were commonplace.- JAMES THURBER, 1955

Word processing is more intimate, more like thinking itself. In retrospect, the typewriter seems a gross mechanical obstruction. I like the provisional nature of unprinted material held in the computer’s memory—like an unspoken thought. I like the way sentences or passages can be endlessly reworked, and the way this faithful machine remembers all your little jottings and messages to yourself. Until, of course, it sulks and crashes. – IAN MacEWAN, 2002

There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words. – DOROTHY PARKER, 1956

I know when it’s the best I can do. It may not be the best there is. Another writer may do it much better. But I know when it’s the best I can do. I know that one of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, “No. No, I’m finished. Bye.” – MAYA ANGELOU, 1990

I guarantee you that no modern story scheme, even plotlessness, will give a reader genuine satisfaction, unless one of those old-fashioned plots is smuggled in somewhere. – KURT VONNEGUT, 1977


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