Saturday, March 25, 2006

Randomly Chosen Quotes of the Day

Happily working away on my talk for the Poconos SCBWI conference next week ("Muddles, Morals, and Making It Through: Journeys for Children and Writers"), so my post for today will be ten quotations from my fifty-two-page quotation file, chosen by putting my cursor at the top of the file, pressing the "down" button, closing my eyes, and counting to ten. Here goes:

  • "Genius is mainly an affair of energy." -- Matthew Arnold
  • "Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better." -- John Updike
  • "The great pleasure in reading literary criticism is having someone else telling you exactly what it is you like." -- Jameela Lares
  • "Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?" -- Alice Walker (I am not sure I agree with this. -- CK)
  • "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • "I write from obsession, habit, and because I have a thorn in my foot, head and heart and it hurts and I can't walk or think or feel until I remove it." – Janet Frame
  • "The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct." -- Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." -- Jack London
  • "People's lives, in [my hometown] as elsewhere, were dull, simple, amazing, unfathomable -- deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum. It did not occur to me [as a child] that one day I would be so greedy for [my hometown] ... to want every last thing, every layer of speech and thought, stroke of light on bark or walls, every smell, pothole, pain, crack, delusion, held still and held together -- radiant, everlasting." -- Alice Munro

And two more lovely Munro quotes just because I like her so much:

  • "I am at home with the brick houses, the falling-down barns, the occasional farms that have swimming pools and airplanes, the trailer parks, burdensome old churches, Wal-Mart, and Canadian Tire. I speak the language."
  • "Georgia once took a creative-writing course, and what the instructor told her was: Too many things. Too many things going on at the same time; also too many people.... Eventually [Georgia] wrote a story that was about her grandfather killing chickens, and the instructor seemed to be pleased with it. Georgia herself thought that it was a fake. She made a long list of all the things that had been left out and handed it in as an appendix to the story. The instructor said that...she was wearing him out." – from the story "Differently"

Enjoy the weekend!


  1. John Updike's reminds me of D.H. Lawrence's comment about ironing a pocket handkerchief (he was good at doing dishes and scrubbing floors too... Frieda was grateful, no doubt.) I like Janet Frame's remark. I like Janet Frame, period. The Matthew Arnold quotation is 'très juste.' "Deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum" is beautiful. I'm afraid I'm a brute sometimes and not afraid of being 'average' if a good experience comes along. Cicero would find most of us both wise and stupid. Jack is always good (too bad his house burned down.) Alice Walker is right in one sense: our lives - our daily lives - do matter, but in terms of goodness, I'm not so sure - 'interesting' might be a better term. "Georgia herself thought it was a fake" calls to mind a Janet Frame book - what was it?

    Good luck with your presentation. (Still looking forward to seeing the notes from your last one.)

  2. Ah, the notes from my last talk. Getting them posted has fallen victim to (a) other work, (b) a desire to make them perfect before they're public, and (c) my need to mine them for material for upcoming talks! But hopefully in April.

  3. Yummy quotes! Thanks, Cheryl!

    Here are a few plucked willy-nilly from my list...

    I have never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be, as is generally accepted, 'don't try to fly too high,' or whether it might also be thought of as 'forget the wax and feathers, and do a better job on the wings.'

    ~ Stanley Kubrick


    A great many people now reading and writing would be better employed keeping rabbits.

    ~ Edith Sitwell


    One of Pullman’s beliefs is that your life begins when you are born, but your life story begins when you realize that you were delivered into the wrong family by mistake.


    Mr. Rogers: Anything worth while certainly takes a while.


    "Congratulate yourselves if you have done something strange and extravagant and broken the monotony of a decorous age."

    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


    "Now, isn't imagination a precious thing? It peoples the earth with all manner of wonders, strange beasts and birds, angels, cherubim and seraphim. And it has to be exercised. No child should be permitted to grow up without exercise for imagination. It enriches life for him. It makes things wonderful and beautiful.”

    ~ Mark Twain