This morning I came across a quote I liked in Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing. Discussing the need for a writer to bare his soul, he quoted writer Red Smith, who said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
Over the years, when I’ve come across quotes that resonated with me from my reading, I’ve marked them for later inclusion in my file of quotations. So, for today’s blog–and specifically on the subject of writing–here are some quotes from my reading, in no particular order.
“Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by any competent journalist or historian.” Joseph Pulitzer
“Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” Samuel Johnston
“A critic is a man who knows the way, but can’t drive the car.” Kenneth Tynan
Headlines in two newspapers, The LA Examiner, William Randolf Hearst and The LA Times, General Harrison Gray Otis; same day, same year, same edition, same trial:
- Examiner: Cops Kill Two in Cold Blood
- Times: Criminals Open Fire on Officials
- Examiner: Witness Tells How Police Assassins Wait in Ambush.
- Times: Witness Admits Being in Pay of Hearst—Yellow Journalism
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas A Edison
“Art and ideas come out of the passion and torment of experience; it is impossible to have a real relationship to the first if one’s aim is to be protected from the second.” Mass Culture and the Creative Artist, James Baldwin
“Ninety percent of writing is re-writing.” Ernest Hemingway
“In every work of genius, we recognize our own reflected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” Self Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.” Walden, Henry David Thoreau
“The prime difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction must stick to possibilities.” Mark Twain
“Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great or original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.” William Wordsworth
“Books, like babies, are easy to conceive but hard to deliver.” Andrew Greeley
Advice to those who would achieve immortality: “Either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin
“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I ever met.” Disorderly Conduct, Abraham Lincoln
I trust you enjoyed reading these as much as I enjoyed resurrecting them.
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, will be e-published in September.
2 thoughts on “Quotes on Writing”
My two favorites: Thoreau’s is funny; Lincoln’s – ouch!
My favorite ouch! is Samuel Johnston’s, but Lincoln’s is also a zinger!