"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

"After you finish (writing a book) you are intensely depressed. It doesn’t much matter whether the reviews are good or not. You feel empty, a field lying fallow, and you must let it stay fallow for a while. You love a book when it’s being written. You are so close to it. You are the only person who knows it and it’s still full of potential… Then, suddenly, there’s the dreadful day when you have the printed proof texts… It’s a feeling of death, really."

— John Fowles, Author

"I suppose an impulse that dominates my whole activity as a poet is the urgent need to transmit what it means to be alive at this given moment in history. This is one of the great functions of poetry through the ages. To me, that’s one of the responsibilities of the poet. And, above all, one has to be determined never to lie, because that’s the unforgiveable sin against poetry itself."

— Stanley Kunitz, poet

Tags: poetry writing

"Being goal-oriented instead of self-oriented is crucial. I know so many people who want to be writers. But let me tell you, they really don’t want to be writers. They want to have been writers. They wish they had a book in print. They don’t want to go through the work of getting the damn book out. There is a huge difference."

— James A. Michener

"A book is a work of art; it exists for its own sake. The purpose of art is to make a gift that someone else finds of value. Most beginning writers simply want to tell people off, to present their program for how to save the universe. If you teach creative writing, part of the process is to teach them how to be more sociable, to care about other people and not just dump on them."

— Kurt Vonnegut



I shone a light.
Aren’t you satisfied?
The land and the sea
Are these not good?
Food grows on trees.
You are still hungry.

I made you a world.
You want to transcend it.
I gave you a body
You want to deny it.
I gave you a life.
You want life everlasting.

Is this not enough?
Aren’t you satisfied?


— Laura Lee, Where Souls Grow Warm

"When I write poetry, I’ll write it down, or a tiny bit of it, and then have to depend on the reader to bring his own feelings, moods and memories to the act of reading poetry. And this act is considerable art in itself. To read poetry or literature with attention is a marvelous thing to be able to do— to respond, to live and be moved by this subtle world you’ve created about you."

— William Anderson, poet

"Americans do not buy books they can read at one sitting; they feel cheated. A thick book, solid as a piece of furniture, one you can set aside to read some day— namely, never— guarantees success there."

— Anthony Burgess, British author

"A writer must have enormous patience. A writer must clearly realize that his profession will cause him pain and sometimes leave him in solitude…Don’t write without a sense of necessity. But if the urge persists, you should be aware that a hard life lies in store."

— Graham Greene, author

Tags: writing

"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