To me, they can be like poems—quick, insightful bursts of meaning or humor; encapsulations of small but powerful moments that might help you get through other small but taxing moments in a manuscript, in an article, off the page.
Ah, the zen of writing quotes.
At the end of this month, I’ll be bringing back the Top 20 Lessons From WD series I first ran in 2009—basically, a retrospect of quotable quips featured in the magazine in the last year. To gear up for the series, I looked back through some of my favorite quotes from last year’s entries … and fell headlong into an afternoon odyssey where I rounded up some lines from interviews/articles that we’ve run in the magazine, random quotes I’ve spotlighted in WD, and a few of my favorite non-WD writing passages.
They’re all below (and a regular Promptly prompt follows). What would you add to the quote list?
* * *
“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD
“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs
“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”
—Steve Almond, WD
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”
—Jack Kerouac, WD