Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, January 11, 2010

Learning from the best

Just finished reading Capote by Gerald Clarke and here's a writerly quote that struck me to the core:

"He endlessly deliberated over such basics as structure and order; he could spend hours examining a single paragraph, like a diamond-cutter deciding how to transform a rough an homely stone into a glittering jewel; and, with some exceptions, he constantly and compulsively revised what he had already written. 'If only I were a writer that could write, not just rewrite,' he lamented to Donald Windham. When he made a mistake, as he did in the ending of The Grass Harp, it was an error in judgment, not a casual slip caused by sloppiness or inattention."

Does anyone write like this anymore? Maybe Matthew Pearl (Dante Club, The Poe Shadow). I could see that kind of care in his writing. But then his plot left much to be desired, at least in The Poe Shadow. I plan on reading his others before I say anything more.

Or are we all in such a hurry to finish, to send it off to the publisher, to get through those edits, to be done with it, and to focus on plotting and suspense (gotta write a bestseller!) rather than the skill of the writing itself?


  1. Hi Karen,
    Many thanks for dropping by my blog. Yours is such fun, I have added it to my blogroll - hope that's OK - Anita

  2. Yes and thank you! Let's hope we get over this new year/holiday funk, right?

  3. Great to meet you via Nicola's blog party!

    I think wanting every sentence to be perfect is one of the things that has always held me back from writing. I now realise that you need to have a first 'go' and try not to worry too much to begin with - but I'd like to think I will still do a lot of polishing thereafter.

  4. I would still rewrite Heroes of the Fallen right now if I could but there must come a day to let it go and start the next one.

  5. Hi

    what an amazing blog! There's so much to read and such a lot of helpful stuff too. Thank you!

    That sentence from Gerald Clark is beautiful. I would hope that writers still write like that!

    Here's one of my fave from my favourite author:

    "Words are the litmus paper of the minds. If you find yourself in the power of someone who will use the word "commence" in cold blood, go somewhere else very quickly. But if they say "Enter", don't stop to pack."

    Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

    Take care

  6. Hello Kitty (Sorry, I couldn't resist lol), thanks for visiting. I haven't read anything by Terry Pratchett but I like that "words are the litmus paper of the minds."

  7. Buckswriter, That perfectionism can hold me back, too, so I just figure write out the dang thing and I can fix it all later. That's what NaNoWriMo did for me in November. I wasn't working, and then I wrote the 50,000 words and it freed me up. Now I have tons of revising to do--Hooray! My favorite part!

    David, Still, you probably would have liked another 3 months to polish it all once you and Kristine went over it, wouldn't you?

  8. Karen, you're a sick person--preferring the revision stage. ;)