Friday, August 10, 2012

Written From Experience

Quite often, the writing process is overlooked while reading. How many of us think about the author while we're reading one of their books? But writing is what bonds author and reader, even for such a short time as it takes to read a book. Without it, there would be nothing to read. Every reader may not be an aspiring or current writer, yet the art of writing is so integral for that reading experience to even happen.

So, what exactly does writing entail? How does one become a writer? I thought it would be a good idea to get some opinions from writers who have experience with this, to get their perspectives on it all. It turns out they're a pretty insightful bunch...

   Have you always wanted to be a writer?

JOHN GRISHAM: "Writing was not a childhood dream of mine. I do not recall longing to write as a student. I wasn't sure how to start."

HUNTER S. THOMPSON: "As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I'm not sure that I'm going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says 'you are nothing,' I will be a writer."

  What are some things that every writer should know?

W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM: "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."

MARK TWAIN: "Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

E. B. WHITE: "Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar."

  Writing isn't always the most successful profession. How do keep your job from seeming like a means to an end? Is it always about the money?

STEPHEN KING: "Like anything else that happens on its own, the act of writing is beyond currency. Money is great stuff to have, but when it comes to the act of creation, the best thing is not to think of money too much. It constipates the whole process.

MOLIÈRE: "Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money."

   Where do you get ideas for what to write?

RAY BRADBURY: "My stories run up and bite me on the leg - I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off."

JULES RENARD: "The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it."

ERICA JONG: "I write lustily and humorously. It isn't calculated; it's the way I think. I've invented a writing style that expresses who I am."

   Getting started is sometimes the hardest part when it comes to writing. Any advice?

ROBERT FROST: "I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering."

BEATRIX POTTER: "There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you."

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

   What would you tell someone who hasn't had much success with their writing?

RAY BRADBURY: "You fail only if you stop writing."

STEPHEN KING: "You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you."

   What are your thoughts about writer's block?

JEFFERY DEAVER: "I've often said that there's no such thing as writer's block; the problem is idea block."

R. L. STINE: "I have a cheat-sheet for each one of my characters about their personality, the way they look, etc. So there is no possible way that I could have writer's block."

JODI PICOULT: "Writer's block is for people who have the luxury of time."

MARY GARDEN: "My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline."

   What can you do when you don't feel like writing?

DESIDERIUS ERASMUS: "The desire to write grows with writing." 

AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS: "The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It's not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work."

  Some young writers aren't sure if they have what it takes. Are there things they can learn, or is writing only for those with innate talent?

TRUMAN CAPOTE: "Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself."

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT: "The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe."

TONI MORRISON: "I think some aspects of writing can be taught. Obviously, you can't teach vision or talent. But you can help with comfort."

   What does writing mean to you?

ISAAC ASIMOV: "Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers."

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: "When I stop working, the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing."

   How do you determine what to put into a story?

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: "If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

NORTON JUSTER: "When I'm writing, I write a lot anyway. I might write pages and pages of conversation between characters that don't necessarily end up in the book, or in the story I'm working on, because they're simply my way of getting to know the characters."

KEN KESEY: "When Shakespeare was writing, he wasn't writing for stuff to lie on the page; it was supposed to get up and move around."

  Any advice for aspiring writers?

LILLIAN HELLMAN: "They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves."

* None of the people listed above were actually interviewed by me. I take no credit for any of the quotes spoken by them.

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