Contrary to what many of you might imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks — chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write.
I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back in again.
A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
It’s a nervous work. The state that you need to be in to write is the state that others are paying large sums to get rid of.
I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her.
I didn’t have to think up so much as a comma or a semicolon; it was all given, straight from the celestial recording room. Weary, I would beg for a break, an intermission, time enough, let’s say, to go to the toilet or take a breath of fresh air on the balcony. Nothing doing!
A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.
Writer’s block is what you get if you’re too full of yourself and trying to be García Márquez. You sit and stare at the wall and nothing happens for you. It’s like imagining you’re a tree and trying to sprout leaves. Once you come to your senses and accept who you are, then there’s no problem. I’m not García Márquez. I’m a late-middle-aged midlist fair-to-middling writer with a comfortable midriff, and it gives me quite a bit of pleasure.
There is no immaculate conception in art.
Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.
Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration.
What am I in the eyes of most people? A good-for-nothing, an eccentric and disagreeable man, somebody who has no position in society and never will have. Very well, even if that were true, I should want to show by my work what there is in the heart of such an eccentric man, of such a nobody.
Discontent is at the root of the creative process: the most gifted members of the human species are at their creative best when they cannot have their way.
When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: “Only stand out of my light.” Perhaps someday we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light.
As I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time are those who have given me something to say.
The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.
Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression.
No one should drive a hard bargain with an artist.
What you have to do now is work. There’s no right way to start.