Friday, September 25, 2009

Word rat

I'm not a pack rat. I have no problem throwing out clothes, furniture, shoes, cosmetics, whatever has outgrown its use and/or is cluttering my physical space. Things, things - don't need 'em.

I'm a word rat. I collect words on post cards that date all the way back to my childhood. Books. Poems. Letters. (I have NEVER thrown out a personal letter.) E-mails. Essays from high school. Pages torn from magazines.

Collecting quotations is one of my passions, and in recent years I've focused on quotations on writing, by writers. I have hundreds of them on my hard drive. Actually, it's more like a thousand. They inspire me with with their truth, their wit and insight, but most especially with their humor, even when - or especially when - it's black humor. Here are some of my favorites.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.” – Kingsley Amis

“Author: A fool, who, not content with having bored those who have lived with him, insists on tormenting the generations to come.” – Montesquieu

“In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.” – Raymond Chandler

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

“All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff, and then prints the chaff.” – Adlai Stevenson

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” – Robert Heinlein

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” – Steven Wright

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.” – Molière

“The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he’s given the freedom to starve anywhere.” – S.J. Perelman

“Whether it is done quickly or slowly, however splendid the results, the process of writing fiction is inherently, inevitably, indistinguishable from wasting time.” – Deborah Eisenberg

“I have been an author for 20 years and an ass for 55.” – Mark Twain

“If you really want to hurt your parents and you don’t have nerve enough to be homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” – Meg Chittenden

“I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on my sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning.” – Philip Roth

“Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.” John Osborne

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.” – W. Somerset Maugham

Do you collect writing quotes? Do you prefer the ones on craft, on characters, or maybe the ones on stumbling blocks, or do you, like me, love the humorous ones best of all? Which are your favorites?

Liane Spicer

11 comments:

Debs said...

I don't have any problem getting rid of clothes, but books, words and paperwork is my downfall.

I love sayings. Favourite ones are:

It's never too late to be what you might have been - George Eliot (I always think of this everytime I start faffing about with my novel again).

And, 'Published people are the ones who didn't give up' Anon (and probably not correct, but I like that too, it keeps me going.

Lane said...

I love these. The Deborah Eisenberg is my favourite. And the Roth. I guess I like the humorous ones best too. I suppose it's an easy profession to be humorous about:-)

ChrisH said...

Def with you on slinging stuff but not words. Poetry does it for me!

Liane Spicer said...

Debs, the Anon quote has kept me going in the face of the odds. I stand by it.

Lane, I love those two. And yes, a well-honed sense of humour is essential in this business.

ChrisH, I'm picky about poetry, but when I find one that does it, it really sticks.

Genella deGrey said...

My other half is a MAJOR pack rat. There's no room for anything I might gather. LOL

I used to collect quotes - stopped for some reason . . . Oh yeah, I need to get writing. ;)

Thanks for this - I really needed the laugh today.
:)
G.

Shauna Roberts said...

LOVED your quotes!

I collect writing quotes, too, and each Sunday share (or perhaps inflict) one on my Southern Louisiana RWA chapter by email. I collect primarily inspirational quotes.

Maria Zannini said...

I love quotes, those short pithy phrases that pack a mouthful.

While not specifically a writing quote, I've always lived by this one:

'There are 10,000 reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.'

Phyllis Bourne said...

Wow, love the quotes! I have the Jack London one tacked to my inspiration board.

Liane Spicer said...

Maria, that one's new to me. Very powerful! I've added it to my collection.

Phyllis, those guys knew the deal, didn't they? Love the sound of an inspiration board!

akalol said...

Fine collection :)

What about this one:

The hotel shop only had two decent books, and I'd written both of them ~ Douglas Adams

Liane Spicer said...

akalol, LOL! I love that one. Between Adams and Mark Twain I don't know who has the wittiest quotes.