I have a been a professional author and journalist for over five years, but I have been a writer for my entire life, a life filled with creative writing programs, theater in the park, expert teachers and mentors in and out of the classroom and a home library more book than wall or floor. Through the course of this life, I have discovered words, both by and about writers and writing, that have stuck with me and helped me explain, understand and follow my passion for the art of words and life as a writer. Here are a few of them.
Don’t be a writer. Be writing. – William Faulkner
This quote is taped to the wall behind my desk, a reminder both of my literal writing process and the challenging journey into successful authorhood. Don’t rest on the work you did yesterday, but keep pushing and driving and writing harder and better. Don’t play dress up as a writer, but get down in the mud and dirt and do whatever must be done to be a writer for real. As my career takes many exciting and unique turns, this quote grows more and more important. You are only a writer if you are writing.
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”- Flannery O’Connor
I walked past this quote for four years, a framed poster in the college library where I worked, and not the first library I worked in. I can picture the simple script in green and yellow, the nondescript frame that held these all important words. Because, of course, the writer is not in control, not really. When the story takes over or the characters begin to act of their own accord, or the journal entry diverts course in a totally unexpected direction, that is when we figure out our true thoughts, and not a moment before.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King
Yes, this is in my room too, hanging just above the ancient Apple desktop computer that no longer turns on. It’s a tiny slip of cardboard tied to a ribbon that came tucked away in the Dracula purse my friend gave me for my birthday. And isn’t it everything, that whether I bring that purse with me or not, whether I bring that book with me or not, I can still transport right back there, to the castle, to the dank night as the moon looms high above, to the Saturday morning back in the early high school when I curled, shivering in fright, below my blanket, half-believing Dracula himself to be standing just outside my door. Books can alter reality, travel through time, change the rules and build new worlds. Every word on a page is pure magic.
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Spoken by Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
And in some cases, books truly are magic. Because for a character in a world where magic rules, words can literally kill and they can literally heal. Naturally, it works as a metaphor as well, words that we hurl at loved ones in the heat of the moment, apologies, I love yous and more. Though in our world they cannot provide the speaker with the ability to fly, they can still change everything– and sometimes, just like with a magic spell, all it takes is a single word.
“A tale can start in many ways. Thus, it is many tales, and at the same time each of these is but one way of telling the same story.” ― Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest
Sometimes, we authors must remember that there are several right ways to tell a story. It is easy to get caught in the grip of form and function, but the fundamental elements are a book are not unyielding, and perhaps all that is necessary to break through a difficult or challenging element is to look at it from a new perspective. The same can be said of most things in life.
These are just a few quotes and guides that have stayed with me along the path toward a professional writing career. As I change over time, these quote may change as well, and I hope they do, steps in an evolving artistic life. But they are special to me and I will continue to rely on them for support and motivation.
We fall in love with quotes for different reasons, so feel free share your favorite quotes on or by writers and why they’re special to you. ♦