A Zen parable tells of a wanderer on a lonely road who came upon a torrential stream that had washed out the bridge…he spent several days cutting down trees and vines to build a raft. The raft was solid and heavy and carried him safely across. On the other side he thought, “This is a good raft—if there’s another stream ahead, I can use it.” And so, he carried the raft for the rest of his life.
Four things greater than all things are,
Women and Horses and Power and War.
In a cold like this, the stars snap like distant coyotes, beyond the moon. And you’ll see the shadows of actual coyotes, going across the alfalfa field. And the pine-trees make little noises, sudden and stealthy, as if they were walking about. And the place heaves with ghosts…the ghosts there, of the Rocky Mountains.
When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”
The whole world keeps whispering or shouting to you,
Nibbling your ear like a neglected lover
Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.
A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.
He felt himself in suspension between the two worlds, the warm, neat civilization behind his back, the cool, dark mystery outside. We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.
Wag more, bark less.
When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.
...the material, the story is there: it exists. You find it; you mine it out; you carry it up in buckets or in teaspoons, lay it out upon the table, push around the potsherds, ponder where they fit; fragments of gold leaf, bone, corroded flesh, the rim of a cup in buff grey or brilliant green, a knot of hair and faded threads, or one exquisite glass vessel entire . . . There is a story here, but it is up to the writer to make it whole.
No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses. They see through us at a glance.
Language is like shot silk. So much depends on the angle at which it is held.
Art isn’t what the creator could be, any more than a 100 mile an hour fastball is what an athlete could be. Art is what we can do.
We all have our foibles, and we are all part of a creative industry, which of course means you’re going to get rather a lot of personality from anyone you work with…
Just write your heart out. I promise you that’s what matters. I would much, much, much rather find a great, unusual, distinctive book by a phobic writer covered in oozing sores who lives in a closet than a decent but not amazingly original book by the world’s best promoter. I could sell the former a lot better, too.
And he's a star in the illustration from LESSONS IN FRENCH!
Find out winners and see a scan of the original artwork by Charles Rutledge, the scene of Callie and Hubert in the kitchen, on the lam from the constable.Read More »
Laura and her crack team of Tea-Drinking Plotters figure out What Happens Next
Ever wonder how the pros (haha) get it done? A behind the scenes look at a plotting session for Lessons in French, starring Laura, Chas and EK. Plotting. No nets. No spell-check.Read More »
How I almost didn't get the wish of my heart--and then did
I was too young and naive to verify that this was the right tour. Finally, I asked the German guide if we were going to the Spanish Riding School. Oh, no, she said. The Summer Palace was the last stop. I had boarded the wrong bus.Read More »
Scenes From the Author's Battle with Writer's Block
If you don’t think there is such a thing as a genie (or daemon or genius) of the creative process, then you don’t need to read this one. There’s no advice for blocked writers here. Just my experience of what it means.Read More »
Because writing is an art
This is a copy of a commentary I made at Smartbitches.com several years ago, in response to a discussion about whether writing (and authors) are a service industry. I was somewhat surprised to find out how controversial my opinion was. But reading this again after several years, it remains the truth for me. I didn’t write this to hurt any readers’ feelings, or diminish the consumer’s role in the publishing industry, or suggest that any other author should feel the same way as I do. I just wrote it because it’s my experience of what it’s like to write, and to publish what I write, and to write the best books that I can. Feel free to discuss (and disagree) in the comments.Read More »
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