"Most fundamentally, I used to write because I received positive feedback. To a guy who was picked on pretty relentlessly through a lot of his childhood, the respect and affection of students and teachers is addictive. It was a couple years after grad school that I realized that a need for affirmation wasn’t a good enough reason to keep writing, especially in the face of rejection after rejection after even personal rejection, and that if I was going to do it, I had to acknowledge that it was going to take my whole life. The decision to do it until I’m dead has made the writing and the writing life so much easier."

— Donald Dunbar, in the Poetry Foundation blog

Tags: writing

I have been reading a lot of biographies lately, mostly of Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas.  They have left me wondering if “that which is the man” can ever be captured in a biography.

In life you never experience a person the way you do in a biography.  You never get an overview of a whole life– the same person in his context as a worker, a family man, a lover, a friend, a debtor, in all of his moods: when he is up, when he is down.  You have impressions of people.  You know parts of them.  A biographer tries to harmonize all of the impressions he or she can collect from people who caught these glimpses, who knew the person in part.

Who has the truth? Is the opinion of a person who dislikes you, colored by the memory of a bad experience less “true” than the memory of the person who was delighted by you? Is the truth the middle ground of these two poles or are you actually both things at the same time– a thoughtless person and a thoughtful person, depending on the context?

(Read the full article via the link)


The two characters were created together. I consciously thought of their relationship as the mountain, where earth meets heaven. Ian is “earthy.” So he likes food, he is physical and sensual. Paul is the one with his head in the clouds. Ian teaches Paul to live in the moment and to get in touch with his physical nature, and Paul teaches Ian to appreciate the spiritual.

I think Ian’s earthiness appeals to people. He is not self-conscious in areas where a lot of us are. He is not worried about his physical attractiveness, and he doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned about what anyone thinks about his sexuality. Those are areas where a lot of us are hung up. This doesn’t mean he has no issues. He has a lot of them, just in other areas. I think of Paul as being someone who has romantic ideas about love, he wants love to be spiritual and transcendent, but he has detached love from the sensual world. He talks about the body and blood of Christ and the physicality of that, and yet it is all intellectual for him. He can’t appreciate his own incarnation. Ian knows he is sexy, but he doesn’t quite believe that he can be loved.
At this time in their lives these two men need each other. The relationship that brings each of them back to health is also one that is risky and could tear them apart.
The process of creating a character, for me, is quite subconscious.


— Interview with author Laura Lee on the novel Angel on The Readdicts

"Things are actually very healthy in terms of readers and in terms of authors,” (agent Kelly) Patrick said. “What’s sick is the business model of publishing and that’s what I’m finding is so depressing."

Literary Agents Discuss the Publishing Industry, Daily Progress

"Other people’s words are so important. And then without warning they stop being important, along with all those words of yours that their words prompted you to write. Much of the excitement of a new novel lies in the repudiation of the one written before. Other people’s words are the bridge you use to cross from where you were to wherever you’re going."

— Zadie Smith

Tags: writing

"A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words."

— Orhan Pamuk (via pavorst)

(via wordpainting)

"Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing."

— Henry Miller

Tags: writing

"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