Neil Gaiman

  • Jun. 10th, 2014 at 9:49 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
...It occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show who they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkable to kill...

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on air, composed of sounds and ideas—abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken—and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.

William Faulkner

  • May. 5th, 2014 at 7:01 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: boat in sunset)
At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is... to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don't think the talent makes much difference, whether you've got that or not.

C. S. Lewis

  • Dec. 8th, 2013 at 12:57 AM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
The way for a person to develop a style is (a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and (b) to be sure he is saying exactly that. The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him. I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right the reader will most certainly go into it.

Erin Bow

  • Oct. 28th, 2013 at 11:20 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
Fantasy elevates ordinary and eternal problems of youth into stories via the language of myth. It turns “No one really knows me” into “I’ve got a secret identity.” It turns “I don’t understand why other people act the way they do” into “I’m trapped in a faerie realm.” It turns “my high school must have been built over the mouth of hell” into “my high school must have been built over the mouth of hell.”

...There are certain things in life that are glorious, and they are glorious for everyone. There are more that are hard, and they are hard for everyone. We like to see these things retold, but with dragons.

Ray Bradbury

  • Aug. 31st, 2013 at 10:08 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

Margaret Atwood

  • Aug. 7th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.

Stephen King

  • Jul. 15th, 2013 at 6:45 PM
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Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.

Charles Bukowski

  • Jun. 24th, 2013 at 10:16 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
So You Want to Be a Writer

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your typewriter
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or fame,
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and pretentious,
don't be consumed with self-love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to sleep
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by itself
and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Neil Gaiman

  • May. 13th, 2013 at 11:18 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
I like to imagine things... It's the power of concretizing a metaphor. Taking something and making it real and making it happen and seeing where it goes. It's a special kind of magic.

Ernest Hemingway

  • May. 2nd, 2013 at 9:59 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: black and white tree scene)
A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.

Madeleine L'Engle

  • Apr. 21st, 2013 at 1:26 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
Story always tells us more than the mere words, and that is why we love to write it, and to read it.

Mark Strand

  • Apr. 14th, 2013 at 6:56 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
...Sometimes poems aren’t literal representations of anything. Sometimes a poem just exists as something else in the universe that you haven’t encountered before. If you want a poem to say what it means, right away, clearly—and of course the poet who writes that kind of poem is usually talking about his or her own experiences—well, what happens when you read that kind of poem is that it puts you back in the world that you know. The poem makes that world seem a little more comfortable, because here is somebody else who has had an experience like yours.

But you see, these little anecdotes that we read in these poems and that we like to believe are true, are in fact fictions. They represent a reduction of the real world. There’s so much in our experience that we take for granted—we don’t need to read poems that help us to take those things even more for granted. People like John Ashbery or Stevens do just the opposite—they try to explode those reductions. There’s a desire in Ashbery, for example, to create perfect non-sequiturs, to continually take us off guard. He creates a world that is fractured. It doesn’t imitate reality.

But, looking at it from another point of view, you could say that it’s simply a world that is as fractured and as unpredictable as the world in which we move every day. So there’s an element of delight in these people who rearrange reality. We usually hang on to the predictability of our experiences to such an extent... and there’s nowhere else where one can escape that as thoroughly as one can in certain poets’ work. When I read poetry, I want to feel myself suddenly larger... in touch with—or at least close to—what I deem magical, astonishing. I want to experience a kind of wonderment. And when you report back to your own daily world after experiencing the strangeness of a world sort of recombined and reordered in the depths of a poet’s soul, the world looks fresher somehow. Your daily world has been taken out of context. It has the voice of the poet written all over it, for one thing, but it also seems suddenly more alive—not as routinely there.

Stephen King

  • Mar. 24th, 2013 at 11:33 AM
beth_shulman: (book: meg powers)
The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

William Faulkner

  • Jan. 25th, 2013 at 12:16 AM
beth_shulman: (stock: boat in sunset)
I doubt that a man trying to write about people is any more interested in blood relationships than in the shape of their noses, unless they are necessary to help the story move. If the writer concentrates on what he does need to be interested in, which is the truth and the human heart, he won't have much time left for anything else, such as ideas and facts like the shape of noses or blood relationships, since in my opinion ideas and facts have very little connection with truth.

Ray Bradbury

  • Jan. 24th, 2013 at 12:56 AM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
My passions drive me to the typewriter every day of my life, and they have driven me there since I was twelve. So I never have to worry about schedules. Some new thing is always exploding in me, and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it. It says: Get to the typewriter right now and finish this.

Mark Strand

  • Jan. 16th, 2013 at 9:16 PM
beth_shulman: (Default)
...If I were absolutely sure of whatever it was that I said in my poems, if I were sure, and could verify it and check it out and feel, yes, I’ve said what I intended, I don’t think the poem would be smarter than I am. I think the poem would be, finally, a reducible item. It’s this “beyondness,” that depth that you reach in a poem, that keeps you returning to it. And you wonder, The poem seemed so natural at the beginning, how did you get where you ended up? What happened? ...I like that, I like it in other people’s poems when it happens. I like to be mystified. Because it’s really that place which is unreachable, or mysterious, at which the poem becomes ours, finally, becomes the possession of the reader... In the act of figuring it out, of pursuing meaning, the reader is absorbing the poem, even though there’s an absence in the poem... And eventually, it becomes essential that it exists in the poem, so that something beyond his understanding, or beyond his experience, or something that doesn’t quite match up with his experience, becomes more and more his. He comes into possession of a mystery, you know—which is something that we don’t allow ourselves in our lives... We feel we have to know what things mean, to be on top of this and that. I don’t think it’s human, to be that competent at life.

China Mievelle

  • Jan. 16th, 2013 at 8:32 PM
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There’s simultaneously something rigorous and something playful in genre. It’s about the positing of something impossible—whether not-yet-possible or never-possible—and then taking that impossibility and granting it its own terms and systematicity. It’s carnivalesque in its impossibility and overturning of reality, but it’s rationalist in that it pretends it is real. And it’s that second element which I think those who dip their toes in the SF pond so often forget. They think SF is “about” analogies, and metaphors, and so on. I refute that—I think that those are inevitable components, but it’s the surrendering to the impossible, the weird, that characterizes genre. Those flirting with SF don’t surrender to it; they distance themselves from it, and have a neon sub-text saying, “It’s okay, this isn’t really about spaceships or aliens, it’s about real life,” not understanding that it can be both, and would do the latter better if it was serious about the former.

Jonathan Safran Foer

  • Jan. 11th, 2013 at 12:23 AM
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The more specific you are, the more universal you are. Efforts to be universal actually result in something that connects with very few people.

Vladimir Nabokov

  • Dec. 23rd, 2012 at 12:10 AM
beth_shulman: (Default)
The inspiration of genius adds a third ingredient: it is the past and the present and the future (your book) that come together in a sudden flash; thus the entire circle of time is perceived, which is another way of saying that time ceases to exist. It is a combined sensation of having the whole universe entering you and of yourself wholly dissolving in the universe surrounding you. It is the prison wall of the ego suddenly crumbling away with the nonego rushing in from the outside to save the prisoner – who is already dancing in the open.

Barbara Kingsolver

  • Dec. 14th, 2012 at 1:07 AM
beth_shulman: (Default)
Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.

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