My Favorite Quotations

On Writing:

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." - Scott Adams


“I think all writing is a disease.  You can’t stop it.” - William Carlos Williams M.D.


“[Writing is] like driving a car at night:  you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” - E.L. Doctorow


“Writing is like getting married.  One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck.” – Iris Murdoch


"If writers were good businessmen, they'd have too much sense to be writers." - Irwin S. Cobb


"You never know what you'll want to write until it starts writing itself in your head." – Jill Ker Conway


“Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness — when a glorious idea comes to mind and, secondly, when a last page has been written and you haven’t had time to know how much better it ought to be.” - J.B. Priestley


“Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. ... With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.” - Gabriel García Márquez


"I have learned in my thirty-odd years of serious writing only one sure lesson:  stories, like whiskey, must be allowed to mature in the cask." - Sean O'Faolain


"It's splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your imagination and make them pop like chestnuts." - Gustave Flaubert


"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it." - Margaret Fuller


"Stick with what is essential to the piece, find the right image, the right language, then shut up, stand back and let the work speak for itself." - Marya Hornbacher


On Books:

“Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.” - Jesse Lee Bennett


"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." - Francis Bacon


“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” - Joseph Brodsky


"You can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book.  But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries." – Christopher Morley


“No two persons ever read the same book.” - Edmund Wilson


"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." - Jorge Luis Borges


"It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning." - Claude Bernard


“A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas.” - Norman Cousins


“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” - P.J. O’Rourke


“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” - Neil Gaiman


“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” - Oscar Wilde


"When I am dead, I hope it may be said:  His sins were scarlet, but his books were read." – Hilaire Belloc


“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” - Paul Sweeney



On Poetry:

"Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking." - John Barrington Wain


"It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there." - William Carlos Williams M.D.


"When in public poetry should take off its clothes and wave to the nearest person in sight; it should be seen in the company of thieves and lovers rather than that of journalists and publishers." - Brian Patten


"Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child." - Carl Sandburg


"Poetry is what gets lost in translation." - Robert Frost


Poetry should:  "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant." - Emily Dickinson


"Poetry is the clear expression of mixed feelings." - W.H. Auden


“The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness.” - Christopher Morley


"Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young." - Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve


"How gladly, with proper words, the soldier dies." - Wallace Stevens


“The greatest thing of all is to be a master of the metaphor.  It is the only thing which cannot be taught by others; and it is also a sign of original genius, because a good metaphor implies the intuitive perception of similarity in dissimilar things.” – Aristotle


Words are things, and a small drop of ink falling like dew upon a thought produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. - Lord Byron 


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