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?