"The insomnia I am talking about results from a mild state of possession, harmless to those around you, who sometimes even fail to notice it. It usually comes when you are completely engrossed in your work and overtakes you so completely that every aspect of your daily life becomes mechanical and provides only a colorless backdrop to action occurring only in your mind. It matters not whether at this time you are asleep or awake. The secret life pulses within you, and when you wake in the middle of the night you realize there is no way to stem its flow."
— Ludmila Ulitskaya
"There’s no question about it. The arts are an extremely high-risk situation. People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians or painters, and because of them we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it— People like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent van Gogh or Mozart. So, yes, it’s a very foolish thing to do, notoriously foolish, but it seems human to attempt it anyway."
— Kurt Vonnegut
"I always thought that music was the highest genre of art. Then when I met Shostakovich and we became friends, he said that in his opinion poetry was the highest. I asked him why, and he said because poetry contains poetry inside itself. Poetry, he said, is music with explanation."
— Yevgeny Yevushenko, poet
"I think that any achievement, and especially artistic achievement, is born partly out of the illusion that what you have to do is important and that you can do it. And one of the powers of youth might be the power of conjuring up this illusion. Once you start to doubt whether something is worth doing, there’s a terrible tendency not to do it."
— John Updike
"Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."
— Jack Kerouac
"The easiest thing about writing, and the most overrated thing, is coming up with an idea. That is the problem that I have with a lot of the “creativity” books for budding writers. So many of them imply that being imaginative is the most important part of being a writer. Everyone is imaginative. A professional writer is someone who puts in the work to take those journal scrawlings and make them into a novel that someone might want to read. This is not to say that I think everyone who writes should aspire to being a professional writer. People can get a lot of benefit from participating in arts, not just buying them from other people. I do get tired, though, with the idea that artists just dream things up. An artist does the work. That is the “creation” part of “creativity."
— author Laura Lee interview in Indie Author News
"I would venture a guess that an artist concentrating wholly unself-consciously, wholly thrown into his work, is incapable of producing pornography."
— Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet
A lot of the most beautiful moments in the arts do come at the breaking point of the medium. Sometimes the most moving moment when someone is speaking or singing is when their voice cracks with emotion or they can’t go on.
When someone reaches the limit of the power of the medium, that’s when they start to signify this thing that exceeds the medium. It’s a way of making us feel what’s not sayable, what’s inexpressible. That’s how you say what can’t be said.
— author Ben Lerner, quoted in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio