"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
"After I finished The Book of Daniel, I was profoundly, emotionally exhausted. But I didn’t know it. I sat around for a year trying to write. I wrote endless pages that didn’t take me anywhere. I got so desperate that I started to write about the wall that I face when I write. As it happened, that was the wall in my study in New Rochelle, New York. That house was built in 1906. So I started to think about that house and that street and what it must have looked like in 1906. Out of that emerged Ragtime."
— E.L. Doctrorow
"What I’ve learned is that the muses’ decision to sing or not to sing is not based on the elevation of your moral purpose— they will sing or not, regardless."
— John Barth, author
"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
"Why do you scratch when it itches? it’s a compulsion. It’s an irritation. I know a thousand stories, everybody knows a thousand stories. But only one cockleburr catches your furr and that subject is your question. You may not even know what that question is. It hangs around for a long time. I’ve carried a novel as long as 20 years."
— Robert Penn Warren
"When (writing) a book is done, you hold it in your hand and say, ‘There’s a piece of me,’ and that’s great. It just might be the best piece of me."
— Elia Kazan, motion picture director, author
"Every fragile beauty, every perfect forgotten sentence,
you grieve their going away, but that is not how it is.
Where they come from never goes dry.
It is an always flowing spring."
"All real art is, in its true sense, is a religious impulse; there is no such thing as a non-religious subject. But much bad or downright sacrilegious art depicts so-called religious subjects…Conversely, much great religious art has been written or painted or composed by people who thought they were atheists."
— Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet
"Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."
— Jack Kerouac