10 Essential Quotes for Writers
Andrea Chalupa is a writer, journalist, and producer in New York. She is the author of the 2012 eBook Orwell and the Refugees.
Andrea helped launch online video for Condé Nast Portfolio and AOL Money & Finance. She reported on-camera for these outlets, covering the 2008 presidential conventions, the Sundance Film Festival, and Ford Motor Company's Scientific Research Laboratory. For the Huffington Post, Andrea writes on business, entertainment, and politics. Interviewing C.E.O.s and business leaders, Andrea's stories skew towards the offbeat, such as the popular "C.E.O.s Who Go to Burning Man" and "Bette Midler on Creating Green Jobs."
As an online video host and producer, Andrea's on-camera interviews include discussing the blogosphere vs. the mainstream media with Arianna Huffington, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezinksi of Morning Joe, and Bob Schieffer of CBS News. After graduating from the University of California at Davis with high honors in History, Andrea worked as a community organizer in the 2004 presidential election, wrote for the Portland Mercury in Portland, Oregon, attended the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, and lived in Kyiv, Ukraine where she auditioned to be a national news anchor for 5 Kanal, started a Doors-inspired band, and oversaw the translation of her grandfather's Soviet memoir about growing up under Stalin and his years as a tortured political prisoner in a secret NKVD prison.
The magic “x-factor” that people talk about when they talk about talent is not so magical: it’s simply a matter of hard work. And no other craft reminds one of the torments of hard work than writing. Unlike the sculptor, the writer has to create mounds of clay from scratch—pages and pages of terrible first and subsequent drafts. Writers don’t get the enjoyment of going into a field of sunflowers with a canvas, paints, and brushes, to capture the light for an entire afternoon, or playing off someone else’s energy as actors do when rehearsing a scene. We’re locked up alone with our nagging imaginations, in need of focus, and in need of a whip.
The big idea presented here is that a writer’s whip, for taming the imagination, is the hard-earned wisdom of those who came before. Hemingway and Fitzgerald honed their craft by studying Sherwood Anderson, Ivan Turgenev, Joseph Conrad, and others. (A boxing aficionado, Hemingway considered himself “getting in the ring” with these greats. He took the metaphor too far when he wrote a novel mocking his mentor, Anderson, to get out of a book contract.)
For anyone who has a story to tell—whether in a proposal, blog post, press release, screenplay, children’s book, any kind of book—here are 10 quotes that will help you write it:
“It’s not about what happens to people on a page; it’s about what happens to a reader in his heart and mind.” –Gordon Lish, legendary editor who helped launch Raymond Carver and Amy Hempel
“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.” –Toni Morrison; her peers voted Beloved the greatest novel of the past 25 years
“We struggle against most of our exceptional qualities until we’re about forty and then, too late, find out they compose the real us.” –Gertrude Stein as quoted by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who considered her a genius; and she was Hemingway’s literary wet-nurse
“Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.” –Leo Tolstoy; Anna Karenina is often called “the greatest novel ever written”
“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have it.” –Ernest Hemingway, the man who started a literary revolution with short sentences and paragraphs
“Whether it’s something that happened twenty years ago or only yesterday, I must start with an emotion—one that’s close to me and that I can understand.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald; his notes on the manuscript helped launch Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, blasting “Hem” out of obscurity
“Beauty is a form of genius—is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned.” –Oscar Wilde, who maintained his famous sense of humor on his deathbed: while sipping champagne, he said, “I’m dying beyond my means.”
“Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.” –Ray Bradbury, wrote every day and never went to college
“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.” –J.D. Salinger, who had a hard time publishing The Catcher in the Rye; the biggest complaint was that Holden Caulfield wasn't believable
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” –Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most productive people in history
Image Credit: aqsahu (Flickr)
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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