I’ve known several cases of writers who decide to write about something and they research the hell out of it and when they’re ready to write, they can’t move because they are so burdened. I start writing. Whatever I need somehow comes to hand.
—E.L. Doctorow (via writingquotes)
Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.
—Hunter S. Thompson (via writingquotes)
Famous Novelists on Symbolism in Their Work and Whether it was Intentional
- Question: Do you consciously, intentionally plan and place symbolism in your writing?... If yes, please state your method for doing so. Do you feel you sub-consciously place symbolism in your writing?
- Jack Kerouac: "No."
- Isaac Asimov: “Consciously? Heavens, no! Unconsciously? How can one avoid it?”
- Joseph Heller: “Yes, I do intentionally rely on symbolism in my writing, but not to the extent that many people have stated…No, I do not subconsciously place symbolism in my writing, although there are inevitably many occasions when events acquire a meaning additional to the one originally intended.”
- Ray Bradbury: “No, I never consciously place symbolism in my writing. That would be a self-conscious exercise and self-consciousness is defeating to any creative act. Better to let the subconscious do the work for you, and get out of the way. The best symbolism is always unsuspected and natural."
- John Updike: “Yes—I have no method; there is no method in writing fiction; you don’t seem to understand.”
- Norman Mailer: “I’m not sure it’s a good idea for a working novelist to concern himself too much with the technical aspects of the matter. Generally, the best symbols in a novel are those you become aware of only after you finish the work.”
- Ralph Ellison: “Symbolism arises out of action…Once a writer is conscious of the implicit symbolism which arises in the course of a narrative, he may take advantage of them and manipulate them consciously as a further resource of his art. Symbols which are imposed upon fiction from the outside tend to leave the reader dissatisfied by making him aware that something extraneous is added.”
- Saul Bellow: “A ‘symbol’ grows in its own way, out of the facts.”
- Richard Hughes: “[Consciously?] No. [Subconsciously?] Probably yes. After all, to a lesser extent, the same is true of our daily conversation—in fact, of everything we think and say and do.”
- (Lucas Reilly)
I have a great many opinions about writing, but I’m afraid that all of them are unprintable.
—Alfred Lansing (via writingquotes)
In the eyes of others a man is a poet if he has written one good poem. In his own he is only a poet at the moment when he is making his last revision to a new poem. The moment before, he was still only a potential poet; the moment after, he is a man who has ceased to write poetry, perhaps forever.
—W.H. Auden (via writingquotes)
I love the sound of words, the feel of them, the flow of them. I love the challenge of finding just that perfect combination of words to describe a curl of the lip, a tilt of the chin, a change in the atmosphere. Done well, novel-writing can combine lyricism with practicality in a way that makes one think of grand tapestries, both functional and beautiful. Fifty years from now, I imagine I’ll still be questing after just that right combination of words.
—Lauren Willig (via writingquotes)