Monday, June 29, 2009

Thoughts on Writing

First, Cheri and I have traded weeks so if anyone is thinking, shoot, her again?, well, you're right. Me again. Second, I've been down with the flu for over a week so I hope everyone willl forgive me if I offer a few borrowed thoughts instead of something of my own. These come from a book I stumbled across once upon a time and recently was able to get a free copy from my favorite used book website,, which I've written about before. (Just a side note: One of the things I love about the site is that it has a map to show all the places you've sent your books, and from where you've received them, and it makes me feel a bit more involved in life, even when I'm doing little more than sleeping and wandering around listlessly in between taking naps).

(From Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers by Susan Shaughnessy [HarperSan Francisco 1993])

You've got to be smart enough to write, and stupid enough not to think about all the things that might go wrong. (Sarah Gilbert)

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila (Mitch Ratcliffe)

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something. (Frank Capra)

If you have a skeleton in your closet, take it out and dance with it. (Carolyn MacKenzie)

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter. (Jessamyn West)

When I'm not writing, I can't make sense out of anything. I feel the need to make some sense and find some order, and writing fiction is the only way I've found that seems to begin to do that. Even if the story or the novel ends up saying there is no sense and there is no order, at least I've made that much of an attempt. (Alice McDermott, National Book Award)

The ark was built by amateurs, and the Titanic by the experts. Don't wait for the experts. (Murray Cohen)

Even if my marriage is falling apart and my children are unhappy, there is still a part of me that says, "God! This is fascinating!" (Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize winner)

And here are a few other thoughts I've come across recently, but not from Walking on Alligators:

To share our stories is not only a worthwhile endeavor for the storyteller, but for those who hear our stories and feel less alone because of it." (Joyce Maynard)

We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are. (Tobias Wolff)

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. (Vaclav Havel)

We must try harder to understand than to explain (Vaclav Havel)


Michele Ashman Bell said...

I had to print this off. I loved the quotes. They are so true!

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Loved the quotes, Val! Sorry about that darn flu--

And no one is thinking shoot not her post again! Love your posts! :)

Cheri J. Crane said...

Wonderful quotes, Val. I'm so glad you shared them. And thanks again for filling in for me this week. I owe you one. ;)