Sunday, March 20, 2011


Today, a bit of a potpourri of quotes. First up, the one in my icon: "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." The quote is by Jane Austen, and is spoken by Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey; it seemed appropriate after posting the Henry Tilney Old Spice parody the other day.

On the viability of books

This is from Lise Lunge-Larsen at Snipp Snapp Snute:

Call me an optimist, but I don’t think books as we know them will die. Radio didn’t die when TV came along. Theater didn’t go away when film was invented. They just had to become better. And so do books.

On perseverance and reaching for goals

I jotted this down after watching Tiffany Derry be eliminated from Top Chef this week - it's what she said in her closing remarks: "Sometimes you don't get where you want to go, but I know you get further than you were before."

And for those of you who keep plugging along, wondering when your day will come (for some, that means publication, for some that means winning an award or having a best-seller), here's a little something from Randy Newman's Oscar acceptance speech. He's someone who is decidedly successful at his craft, and I think his remarks help to put things in perspective:

I’m very grateful for this and surprised. My percentages aren’t great. I’ve been nominated 20 times and this is the 2nd time I won.
On writing

First up, some excellent advice from Jo Knowles's blog post, "Write Like There's No One in the Room":

I know when we put our hearts into our work, when we put the blinders on and focus on the story that needs to be told, no matter how challenging... that's when the best stuff comes out. I really believe that.

Write for yourself first.

Write like there's no one in the room.

Finally, some tidbits from a Slate article, "How to Write a (Good) Sentence: Adam Haslitt on Stanley Fish", which my friend David sent me to read a while back. I finally got around to it this morning, and have skimmed three different quotes from it (four actually, but through the clever use of an ellipse, it doesn't look that way). Haslitt was writing about Fish's book, How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, which, based on this article, I need to obtain and read. Eventually. *thinks about still-towering TBR piles*

[T]oo often the instruction to "omit needless words" (Rule 17) leads young writers to be cautious and dull; minimalist style becomes minimalist thought, and that is a problem.

* * *

[T]he form and rhythm of sentences communicate as much meaning as their factual content, whether we're conscious of it or not. . . . The rhythm of the sentence is perfectly matched to its positive content. Indeed, from a writer's point of view the two aren't separate. If we could separate meaning from sound, we'd read plot summaries rather than novels.

* * *

That ability—to graft theme into syntax—is what makes great writing a pleasure to listen to.

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