Favorite Quotes From Writers

“It’s a damn good story. If you have any comments, write them on the back of a check.”

Erle Stanley Gardner (note on a manuscript sent to an editor).

“It is my heart-warmed and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone.”

–Mark Twain

(You weren’t talking about quotes about writing specifically, I hope?) :wink:

Kinda. But Mark Twain is always welcome. :slight_smile:

I like the Mark Twain. This oblique quote is from P.G. Wodehouse:

‘It was a fine cow, as cows go, but, like so many cows, it lacked sustained dramatic interest.’


And this one’s from Harold Pinter:

‘In a career attended by a great deal of dramatic criticism one of the most interesting – and indeed acute – critical questions I’ve ever heard was when I was introduced to a young woman and her six-year-old son. The woman looked down at her son and said: ‘This man is a very good writer.’ The little boy looked at me and then at his mother and said: “Can he do a ‘W’?”’


crimewriter, I first read the Mann quote in your signature line, and now I use it to explain why I’m so pissy all the time.

Well, Sean, I’d never thought of using it for that. I use it to explain why I always look so overworked and careworn. Everything else, naturally, I blame on my parents.


“There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabatoge and annoy them whenever possible.”

Bron Waugh, Brideshead Benighted

“Listen, some quiet night, when you’ve shirked your work that day because of fatigue or discouragement or distraction. Open a window of your house and listen attentively to the night sounds. Do you hear that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That’s one of your competitors, pecking away at his keyboard, working away in the night in Paris or London or Erie, PA.”

I can’t recall where or from whom I stole this (possibly even the Scrivener forum), but it forms the frontispiece of my current writing file. :smiley:

Thank you, Hugh. I shall copy that out and post it above my desk. Or maybe over my bed.


I’ve seen this attributed to Jack M. Bickham, but I have no idea where it’s from.

People kept telling Joseph Heller he’d never written a novel as good as Catch-22.

His reply: “Who has?”

“I’m a sentence maker. Like a doughnut maker, only slower.”

Don Delillo

“Know the story – the whole story, if possible – before you fall in love with your first sentence, not to mention your first chapter. If you don’t know the story before you begin the story, what kind of a storyteller are you? Just an ordinary kind, just a mediocre kind – making it up as you go along, like a common liar.”

John Irving (a quote I like but with which I don’t completely agree)

“It’s like a law of nature, a law of aerodynamics, that anything that’s written or anything that’s created wants to be mediocre. The natural state of all writing is mediocrity. It’s all tending toward mediocrity in the same way that all atoms are sort of dissipating out toward the expanse of the universe. Everything wants to be mediocre, so what it takes to make anything more than mediocre is such a fucking act of will.”

Ira Glass, Producer of This American Life

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

Stephen King

Hi Sean,

“When I was 14, I was so embarrassed by how ignorant my Old Man was, but when I was 21, I was amazed at how much he had learnt”. MARK TWAIN.

Take care

This one, from Edmond Jabès, is one I think vic-k will like. It has blood in it. :stuck_out_tongue:

“To drain all blood from the voice. The voice is the straight way. It follows the tracks of the letters. It is the book’s blood.
You have no more voice. You have given your blood. You have written.”


Dear Alexandria,
I must apologize most profusely and profoundly to you and Margret, for the behavior of the Director. I can usually keep him under control, but, unfortunately, sometimes he does manages to escape when Im not looking. Ive seen the post and just between you and me and Margret of course, it isnt actually blood he drinks (virgin or otherwise), its unsweetened cranberry juice. Hes actually quite a nice guy when you get to know him. He thinks that by adopting a Christopher Lee/Dracula scary guy type persona, it will impress the ladies. Hes just another poor schmuck trying to work through his insecurities. If he gets out again, hes harmless, dont worry.

Id like to thank you for introducing me to Edmond Jabes, and I do mean thank you. Ive never heard of him before. Ive just been listening to him reading some of his poetry, on his Homepage. Ill be doing a lot more of that I suspect and judging by the way this passage has flipped me upside down, I think Ill be looking for books of his poetry translated in to English

Imagine a day without a day behind it, a night without a previous night.
Imagine Nothing and something in the middle of Nothing.
What if you were told this tiny something… was you?

That really is beautiful, I`m actually quite moved by it. Thanks Alex.

Good Night For Now, Take Care.


Haha. I rather liked the Director. See, his strategy worked! :slight_smile:

I took a course in grad school that included Jabès and I was quite taken with his work. The quote I offered here was from his many-volumed Book of Questions, all of which have been translated into English. Though his work has even more power in French, as you might imagine. There are also some published interviews of his that I found quite powerful.

My regards to the Director…and to you, Vic…


“Writing is easy. You just stare at the typewriter until your forehead bleeds.”

  • Attributed with variations to just about everyone, but the popular consensus seems to give it to Hemingway.

Morning Antony,
Actually the quote is attributable to my wife, but it`s been misquoted with such frequency, the misquote has become the quote.

Having contracted ME in 1999, the Benefits Agency, on an annual basis, would send me a questionnaire , which reading between the lines, was saying, “We know you are ill, but we would just like to see, if we can find some little technicality, on which we can deny you your benefit. Please answer the following questions”.

The questionnaires were as thick as the current version of David Pogues Missing Manual for MAC OS X Tiger.4, and upon its arrival, I would go into a bizarre zombified/chronic fatigue/ writersblock, like state, and sit looking at it, mumbling to myself, “I cant, I cant”, to which, my wife would reply, with her usual air of insouciance, “Course y can, its easey. Just…”

So there you have it Antony. Glad to have been of help.

Take care