1. Is the price of a book relative to its condition important to you? (For example, would you pay $1.00 for a book in really bad condition as long as it was merely readable?)
2. When you shop for books do you prefer the book to be in good condition?
3. If you could get a book in good condition at 50% off its cover price, would you buy that book?
1. Write like you’ll live forever — fear is a bad editor.
2. Write like you’ll croak today — death is the best editor.
3. Fooling others is fun. Fooling yourself is a lethal mistake.
4. Pick one — fame or delight.
5. The archer knows the target. The poet knows the wastebasket.
6. Cunning and excess are your friends.
7. TV and liquor are your enemies.
8. Everything eternal happens in a spare room at 3 a.m.
9. You’re done when the crows sing.
In a very real way, one writes a story to find out what happens in it. Before it is written it sits in the mind like a piece of overheard gossip or a bit of intriguing tattle. The story process is like taking up such a piece of gossip, hunting down the people actually involved, questioning them, finding out what really occurred, and visiting pertinent locations. As with gossip, you can’t be too surprised if important things turn up that were left out of the first-heard version entirely; or if points initially made much of turn out to have been distorted, or simply not to have happened at all.
There are books that one reads over and over again, books that become part of the furniture of one’s mind and alter one’s whole attitude to life, books that one dips into but never reads through, books that one reads at a single sitting and forgets a week later.
At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is … curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got that or not.
They agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.
“If time and space, as sages say,
Are things which cannot be,
The sun which does not feel decay
No greater is than we.
So why, Love, should we ever pray
To live a century?
The butterfly that lives a day
Has lived eternity.”
― T.S. Eliot
You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.