Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why do Writers Write?

Why do writers write? Because it isn't there.

- Thomas Berger
 
 
I love this quote!
 
Isn't it a wonderful image? I get such a great visual of a writer pounding away on a keyboard with clouds and clouds of images filling the air. The clouds for me are filled with hazy characters in all kinds of situations. Some peaceful, some suspenseful, some happy and some terrifying.
 
And we take those hazy images in the clouds and pour them onto paper. That sounds easy. It most certainly isn't!
 
It's the possiblities in the quote that make me smile. The fact that we can and do make so much from nothing at all. Like all of the arts, writing is incredibly creative -- and incredibly exhausting. I think this quote showcases our compulsions with a little bit of humour as well.
 
What's one of your favourite quotes about writing?

140 comments:

  1. Can it be that I am the very first commenter? MUST hit post comment IMMEDIATELY!

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  2. Howdy Beth! You most certainly are the 1st commenter - I believe that entitles you to a cup of 2 of my favourites - Chai tea and raspberries! :)

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  3. Ha! I was! I think I'm far too competitive ... or easily amused! I'll have to think about your question and maybe come back. That is a great quote tho! For me ... when people ask WHY I blog (write) I usually say it's because I need a place to put my words! :)

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  4. Beth - I like that answer! It works for me too - there's an awful lot going on inside my head. When I write, I make room for some new stuff! :)

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  5. Wow that is a great quote. Very deep. I write because I have things to say and writing is my preferred form of communication.

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  6. Karen - I like it too! It's got lots of layers for me :)

    I love your reason. It's probably true of many writers!

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  7. Writing is just a great way to express myself, no matter if I share the work with anyone or not. I love your phrase about making room for some new stuff because that's what it does.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  8. Mason - I agree - it really is about getting it out and down on that paper. The rest is bonus :)

    I do wish I had more room, those characters can get mighty loud in there waiting for their turns :)

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  9. That IS a great quote! I have this tacked above my desk: Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~ William Wordsworth

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  10. That's such a great quote! My favorite is by Toni Morrison: "If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

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  11. I love to make up things where there was nothing before. Hmm, some favorite quotes:

    "A writer is working when he's staring out of the window." ~Burton Rascoe (This is so me. I always have the stories moving along in the back of my head and everything around me feeds the stories.)

    "You must write every single day of your life...You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads...may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." ~Ray Bradbury (And this is me, too, because it's my book-love that started all of this)

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  12. Beth - Thanks - I like it too :)

    I actually sighed when I read your Wordsworth quote - it's beautiful!! Love it!

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  13. Sandy - Toni Morrison has some great ones. I've always loved that one too - it makes me smile each and every time! :)

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  14. Angela - that Bradbury quote is awesome!! He's quite the man - there are so many things he writes that I find incredible! Love the image. I'm book obsessed too (obviously :)) so this one is perfect :)

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  15. Love that quote! And I second Sandy's quote ... it's my favorite writer quote!

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  16. I do like that Ray Bradbury quote. I write because I have to!

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  17. Oh my gosh, I've never read/heard this before. It's perfect, Jemi!

    The Bradbury quote is great. I'm also moved by Wordsworth's simple call to, "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."

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  18. I don't have any quotes offhand, but the one you give makes sense. I like to write because I like to read and so I write what I want to read that isn't there. Makes sense. I did it when I was a kid and I still do.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  19. I don't have a qoutation but I like to write poetry for two reason 1: it helps me to get things off my chest and 2: if something special has happened in my life I like to share it.

    Yvonne.

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  20. "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." Gene Fowler.

    :-)

    Take care
    x

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  21. My favorite is by Jack London: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

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  22. Katherine - I love that one too! It really gives me a push to get going! :)

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  23. Stephanie - Bradbury is brilliant! I fell in love with Fahrenheit 451 in high school, but didn't realize how brilliant he was about the writing process as well until the last year or so. :)

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  24. VR - isn't it great? It always makes me smile.

    Wordsworth says is so eloquently - beautiful :)

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  25. Lee - so true! I didn't physically write a whole lot when I was a kid, but I 'wrote' scripts in my head all the time. I was a Star Trek nut and continually made up new scripts for the show. Wish I'd written some down so I could look at them now :)

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  26. Yvonne - poetry is the perfect vehicle for expressing emotions. I wrote a bit when I was in high school and lots of fun stuff when my kids were little. One of these days I'll have to write some more - it's enjoyable. :)

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  27. Old Kitty - LOVE that! That's most certainly what it feels like, isn't it? Great quote :)

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  28. Laura - that's another fabulous one!! I get a great visual with that one too! :)

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  29. We write because otherwise we'd go insane.

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  30. Creative growth seems to thrive on permission to act with emphasis on passion not perfection-Jill Badonsky.
    The acts the success.

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  31. Great Quote! I have two more for you.

    There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

    Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

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  32. Diane - so true! Can you imagine all those characters rapping on our skulls trying to get out? Would definitely drive us (or at least me!) nuts :)

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  33. Lynn - that's a really good one! I've never heard that one before. I totally agree with it! :)

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  34. DL - I love those!! I've definitely opened a vein for my story :)

    And the schizophrenia one is perfectly priceless!

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  35. I write because I need a hobby where I can be creative, otherwise i'd be robbing 7-11's. :-)

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  36. I love reading the quotes but can never quite remember them. However, I do love the ones that mention how insane writers are...I certainly feel that way as my butt-in-chair goes numb and my wrists crack because I've been so focused on my words.

    Great quote!

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  37. Erinn's cracks me up!

    I love quotes about writing. (But I have a hard time remembering them!)

    Shelley

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  38. That is a quote that I've never seen before, but immediately love! Thanks.

    One of my favs - though really not about writing, but can be

    I wonder what will happen today.
    Winnie the Pooh

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  39. I love that quote! It's crazy to think that some of our most real, fleshed out stories were once nonexistent, just ideas in our heads. Wow.

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  40. Great quote!

    I like this one ...
    There is no one right way. Each of us finds a way that works for him. But there is a wrong way. The wrong way is to finish your writing day with no more words on paper than when you began. Writers write.

    ~Robert B. Parker

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

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  41. Erinn - now THAT wouldn't be good! :) I'm sure all of us are thankful you found writing!!

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  42. Mary - exactly! We all get those totally obsessed times when the world just doesn't exist at all for us - so much fun! :)

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  43. Shelley - I totally agree! :)

    Remembering them - and who originally said them is always a challenge!

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  44. Terry Lynn - Pooh is one of my favourites to quote! He says it all so simply - so perfectly! :)

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  45. Shelley - I know! I can't imagine Anne of GG or LotR NOT being real! They've become so real to me over the years, it's hard to imagine they haven't always existed :)

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  46. Thanks Agnes - it applies to all of the arts I think! Gotta love creative powers!

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  47. Terry - wow - I really like that one! I enjoy Parker's stories too - I'm not surprised he would come up with a quote like that! He was a great author. :)

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  48. Alex - love it. It totally works for everything! Whoever came up with that slogan should be making a fortune! :)

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  49. One of my favorite quotes is:

    “Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some under culture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”
    - Don Delillo

    Writing to me is a definitely a unique form of who I am in its essence. (Hugs)Indigo

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  50. Indigo - that's a wonderful quote! It's so true - we write to who we are. If we try to be false to that, the writing won't be strong. :)

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  51. When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.'
    - Neil Gaiman
    which is to say, I think, that one doesn't want to be a writer - one has to write!

    We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little.
    - Anne Lamott
    For sure this is true of me - I don't know what I'm thinking unless I can speak it or write it and apparently I have too many things to figure you out to say them (or at least have them heard) so I must write.

    And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet's pen turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothings a local habitation and a name.
    - William Shakespeare
    OH Yes! Once there was a blank page - now there is a group of people with lives, struggling, dancing, making love, dying. All from air!

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  52. Jan - those are wonderful! The Gaiman & Lamott ones had me laughing out loud :)

    That final one is perfect - from the blank page to real people and all that entails! Awesome.

    Thanks so much for sharing all of these - they're amazing!! :)

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  53. Jemi, I love that quote! I'll need to add it to my collection. One of my favorite writing quotes comes from Joyce Carol Oates:

    "I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes … and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. Or appears to do so."

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  54. Karen - glad you like it too! It always makes me smile :)

    Oooo - that's a good one. What a great image - how writing fills us - makes us stronger! Love it! Thanks for sharing :)

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  55. ponder this, from elmore leonard: 'if it sounds like writing, re-write it.’

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  56. Hmm... When I was in college, my first English professor smacked us repeatedly over the head with Ezra Pound's "make it new" quote. I do find myself trying to make something new out of that which has been done so many times before so maybe her method worked. Who knew? :)

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  57. Laughing Wolf - I LOVE that! As writers we do try to 'disappear' and let the story tell itself. This is great advice! :)

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  58. E Elle - that's awesome! It's funny how an annoying repeated phrase came to mean so much! Love it :)

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  59. I love this quote, and I love living in the clouds with my characters!

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  60. Wow, I read from the post through comments. What a bunch of great quotes! The Gaiman quote is one of my all-time favorites.

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  61. Tamika - me too! It's a great place to live, isn't it? :)

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  62. Tricia - I know! There are so many great quotes here - much better than any Internet search! They are so memorable! :)

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  63. Ha, I love this quote as well :)

    "Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content." Paul Valery.

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  64. Lynda - it's awesome, isn't it? :)

    Valery's quote made me laugh! That's so true - I love it!! We are so vulnerable to our own content :)

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  65. Oh, I love reading these quotes!!

    Hmmm. Mine sounds dumb compared to these.

    But my true reason for writing is just to tell God's stories. To do the job He gave me.

    Patti

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  66. so many quotes. do i have to pick one? ok, here goes: "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad." ~ Lord Byron. that pretty much sums me up.

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  67. You are right about this quote. I've never heard it before now. thanks for sharing.

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  68. That is a great quote. But even more, I love your imagery of clouds and clouds of stuff taking shape.

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  69. Jemi, fantastic quote. I agree with Rayna though - love the cloud image! :)

    I'm rubbish at remembering quotes so I'm glad there are others who can!

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  70. Patti - it doesn't sound dumb at all :) We all find or receive our inspiration in different ways.

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  71. Michelle - that's a great one too! I often feel the exact same way. Once I get that story down, there's room for more :)

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  72. Summer - you're so welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it - I do too :)

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  73. Rayna - thanks! I've always seen the stories in clouds when I imagine them - each has their own space - there are just sometimes so many of them :)

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  74. Talli - thanks :)

    Quotes are fun - I use them at school all the time - the kids love them too!

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  75. I realy like the one I use on my blog by F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Writers aren't exactly people.... they're a whole bunch of people trying to be one person." :)

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  76. Oh Jemi I love that!! It is awesome and so true. Is there anything quite as inspiring to a writer as a blank page? Isn't it that first spark of an idea that really excites us to go for it?

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  77. A quote to live by, love it! ♥

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  78. I love it and I love your imagery! Definitely a quote to save for the future :)

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  79. I love that quote. You are so right - we create worlds, people, their emotions, quirks - out of thin air. It's awesome.

    Here's a quote I like, but haven't yet used on my blog:

    "I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell..." (Richard Wright)

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  80. That's one of my fave quotes, too.

    Here's another. "When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read." ~ Hilaire Belloc

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  81. Great quote! So very true. Thanks for sharing!!

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  82. Wonderful quote! It is full of possibility and makes think the same thing--our little minds changing the world from little stories in our heads.

    I like this one too: The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. -Anais Nin

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  83. Jennifer - I wondered if you'd say that one! I hadn't heard it before reading it on your site. I love it :)

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  84. Lisa - it sure is for me! I love the whole initial concept and first draft the most. It's the most magical part for me :)

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  85. Thanks Julie!

    This quote gives me such a clear picture. It always makes me smile :)

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  86. Theresa - that's a great one and I haven't heard it before! What an awesome visual!! Huge echoing canyon/cave and the mighty author at the top! :)

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  87. Terry - it's such a fun quote!

    I love the Belloc one - that's a new one to me :) Thanks!

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  88. Thanks Kimberly - I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  89. Jackee - it is full of possibilities, isn't it?

    I love that quote! It's wonderful :)

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  90. I've never heard this quote before, and I love it! Sounds bad, but I've never thought of it that way. Makes me think about my wip, how it's not out there yet because I haven't finished writing it yet. The possibilities are endless. What a great way to end my writing day, thanks.

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  91. Julie - that's okay - this quote kinda floored me when I first thought it through :) It's amazing to think how much we create... and all out of nothing! Very cool!

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  92. I hadn't heard the Berger quotation before. It's a great one.

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  93. Helen - I thought so too! It's fun finding new quotes to enjoy :)

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  94. Writers block is when the voices in your head stop talking to you.

    Stephen Tremp

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  95. Jemi, great quote. And, I loved reading all the quotes in the comments--a real gold mine of inspiration!

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  96. Oh you picked a great one! I love it. I picked a couple I like ;o)

    "The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." ~Sylvia Plath

    The next one is the most beautiful I've found ;o)

    "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~William Wordsworth

    There's a lot of great ones in the comments, too ;o) Thanks for sharing!

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  97. Stephen - that's an awesome one! If the voices ever stop talking to me I think I'll be very, very scared :)

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  98. Paul - you're so right Paul! There are so many fabulous quotes in here!! I can always count on my bloggy friends :)

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  99. Erica - Sylvia Plath always has such beautry in her words! And that Wordsworth one gives me absolute chills :)

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  100. I love that quote!! It's beautiful and I will def add that to my quote book.

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  101. ...many quotes come to mind, but for some reason I can't shake something King wrote in "On Writing." He says that with patience, an average writer can eventually be good, but a good writer, no matter their determination, will never be great.

    I'm in agreement with most everything out of that novel, but that statement irks me. I happen to think all writers, if in a groove, and working on something they're truly passionate about, can create brilliance, if only once.

    Jemi, wanted to let you know that I've included you in my latest post...a celebration of sorts. Thought I'd pass the word:)

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  102. Hannah - I like it too! Glad to hear I'm not alone in my quote collecting :)

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  103. Elliot - That's a great quote - and one that has worried me over the last few years. :)

    I like your perspective on it! I've worked with a lot of kids who've been written off by themselves and others. And I've seen them learn to shine! So I think you're right - we can learn. :)

    Thanks - I've been completely crazy with school starting up these past 2 weeks. I might have missed it - I'll pop on over. :)

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  104. "Never, never, never quit." Winston Churchill

    I think that says it perfectly for all (of us) aspiring writers...

    Great post, Jemi!

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  105. Sharon - awesome! I've used that with my kids at school - I'm going to have to use it with me too! :)

    Thanks!!

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  106. Yes. it is all about the possibilities of the blank page, isn't it?

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  107. Carol - it sure is! There's nothing quite like the excitement of that blank page :)

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  108. I can't think of any quotes, but I've seen some great ones.

    I love the possibilities when ideas first hit me. And I love being able to shape them to my vision. :D

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  109. That quote is wonderful. It's full of fabulous possibilities, and honestly I feel a story idea coming from it :)

    I can't think of anything else that I like so much, at least not so general to writing as a whole. I love Hemingway's idea that what you write of your characters is like an iceberg: the reader only sees 10%, even though you know the other 90.

    If you get a chance, stop by my blog. There's something waiting there for you :)

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  110. Usually my favorite writing quote is the last one I read :-) If it makes me smile and think of something about my own writing, it's a good quote, in my opinion.

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  111. Stina - I agree - for me it's all about the possibilities. It's so exciting to be able to start with a fresh idea!

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  112. Rosie - that's Awesome!!! :)

    I love that Hemingway one too - we just skim the surface with the novels - but everything else is tucked away inside us!

    Thanks so much - I'll pop on over tonight!

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  113. Portia - I love that! :) It's so true - many of them do spark ideas for me as well!

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  114. My favorite writing quote is Jack London's "You can't wait for inspiration; you must go after it with a club"

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  115. Great post, Jemi. I love the quote.

    Personally, I love:

    "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." ~E.L. Doctorow

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  116. quotes ARE fun. Maybe someday people will be quoting us!

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  117. I have some of my own quotes about writing:

    o (my byline) Good writing is demanding, tiresome, and tedious as hell. But then again, so is good sex.

    o Writing is such wonderful torture.

    o As a writer, I'm forced to fake interesting. I'm just some schmuck.

    o I don't dream of writing. I write, and let the world dream of reading my words.

    - Eric

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  118. Margo - I love that London quote - It makes such a great picture in my head :)

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  119. Shannon - that's great one! I'm glad you enjoyed this one too. They're fun :)

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  120. Tamara - Now THAT's a very cool idea! I'll have to try to be profound one day :)

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  121. Eric - I LOVE those! You always know how to make me smile!

    That last one gave me chills along with my smile! :)

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  122. Here my favorite quote.
    The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

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  123. Love the quote in your post, and all the ones posted in the comments!

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  124. Lee - I love Anais Nin's quotes - always amazing! :)

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  125. Belle - People have sure listed a lot of awesome quotes! Wonderful! :)

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  126. eeleenlee - thanks! It's much more like me :)

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  127. I like that quote. It's very true. Sometimes I sit down at the computer and there,for sure, is nothing there in my head or on the page. Then, after a while, there is.

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  128. Helen - It does describe it perfectly, doesn't it? It's like bits and pieces of fairy dust come together and voila we have a plot or a character or... So much fun :)

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  129. Lol, great quote! I like this one, too from Mark Twain:

    "Get the facts first. You can distort them later."

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  130. Anne - That's an awesome one! I love Twain - he had the best sense of humour :)

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  131. Hi Jemi! I have so many 'favorite' qoutes about so many things. Endless like my thought! :-) This one though, chases the self-doubts away and reminds me to go with the creative and not worry about if I should or shouldn't write about something. Of the course the answer is always 'Should'! :-)

    "Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." ~Sylvia Plath

    Thanks for this post and everyone sharing all the wonderful qoutes!!

    HUGS,
    Coreen

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  132. Coreen - I'm a quote-aholic too!

    That's a fabulous quote - and so very true! Self-doubt is by far my biggest enemy - but I'm working at it! :)

    My bloggy buddies are wonderful aren't they? :)

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  133. Came here a little late but here's a favorite writing quote of mine:

    "The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think." -Edwin Schlossberg

    And I love the one you put up! :)

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  134. Amanda - that is an awesome quote!! I've never heard that one. I'll have to keep that one close by :)

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  135. Good quote. I like "A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."

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  136. Janet - that is a good one! Perseverence is one of our best skills!

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