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'Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It's a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.'

'And remember: you must never, under any circumstances, despair. To hope and to act, these are our duties in misfortune.'

'Only Southerners have taken horsewhips and pistols to editors about the treatment or maltreatment of their manuscript. This--the actual pistols--was in the old days, of course, we no longer succumb to the impulse. But it is still there, within us.'

‘I listen to my own books. The reason why is because you can hear everything you did right and everything you did wrong. This is the most honourable form of storytelling there is.'

'I tell writers to keep reading, reading, reading. Read widely and deeply. And I tell them not to give up even after getting rejection letters. And only write what you love.'

'You have to turn your collar around like a priest. You offer a lot of praise, you have confession and you have faith, and pretty soon they might trust you enough to know that you're not trying to make the book in your own image. It's their book.'

'To present a whole world that doesn't exist and make it seem real, we have to more or less pretend we're polymaths. That's just the act of all good writing.'

'It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.'

'Everything you invent is true: you can be sure of that. Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry.'

‘My advice to writers, whether they are inspired or repelled by my work, is to read and reread, write and rewrite, keep to the grindstone, do not be swayed by fame or adulation, the work is the absolute prize.'

'Writers are liars, my dear, surely you know that by now? And yet, things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.'

'I certainly never intended to speak for anyone other than myself. Even myself I find it difficult to speak for. My books may well fail as artistic endeavours but I don't want them to fail for failing to speak for a generation for which I never intended to speak in the first place.'

'The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.'

'But then, that's the beauty of writing stories - each one is an exploratory journey in search of a reason and a shape. And when you find that reason and that shape, there's no feeling like it.'

'If you're going to be a writer you have to be one of the great ones... After all, there are better ways to starve to death.'

'Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It's a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.'

'If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism; if you steal from many, it's research.'

'The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not.'

'Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire, then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized, anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to be a writer -and if so, why?'

'You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.'

'Everything in art depends on execution: the story of a louse can be as beautiful as the story of Alexander. You must write according to your feelings, be sure those feelings are true, and let everything else go hang. When a line is good it ceases to belong to any school. A line of prose must be as immutable as a line of poetry.'

'Poetry is a communicative art and also one that has the capacity to disrupt through its relationship with grammar, music and form.'

'All the time I'm not writing I feel like a criminal. It's horrible to feel felonious every second of the day. It's much more relaxing to actually write.'

'To present a whole world that doesn't exist and make it seem real, we have to more or less pretend we're polymaths. That's just the act of all good writing.'

'It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.'

'Writers cannot choose their own mood: with them it is not always hide-tide, nor - thank Heaven! - always Storm.'

'Read, read, read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window.'

‘The first thing you must remember: An editor does not add to a book. At best he serves as a handmaiden to an author. Don't ever get to feeling important about yourself, because an editor at most releases energy. He creates nothing.'

‘If you know exactly what you are going to say in a poem, that poem will be a failure. Besides, there is no interest or fun, in saying what you already know.'

‘The crime novel should have a compelling and credible plot, characters who are more than stereotypes, good writing and the creative integration of setting, narrative, characterisation and theme. To put it simply, a good detective story should be a good novel.'

'It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.'

'Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.'

'Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.'

'As for ‘Write what you know,' I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it's a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it's my duty to testify about them.'

'Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.'

'Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.'

'Which of us has not felt that the character we are reading in the printed page is more real than the person standing beside us?'

'Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don't know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself.  Read more

'I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten, - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.'

'The books we think we ought to read are poky, dull, and dry
The books that we would like to read we are ashamed to buy
The books that people talk about we never can recall
And the books that people give us, oh, they're the worst of all.'

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