Cynthia Kuhn

In Good Company

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that writing can be very challenging. There are days when it seems extremely difficult to create something from nothing…or even downright impossible to wrangle words effectively. In such cases, the words of others who have engaged in the business of writing may be helpful, whether as commiseration or inspiration.

“I think the hardest thing about writing is writing.” — Nora Ephron

“Every morning between 9 and 12 I go to my room and sit before a piece of paper. Many times, I just sit there for three hours with no ideas coming to me. But I do know one thing: if an idea does come between 9 and 12, I am there ready for it.” — Flannery O’Connor

“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” — Dorothy Parker

“The creation of a work of art, or even a work of artifice, typically involves such extremes of despair, elation, self-blame, doubt, frustration, embarrassment, dread, grandiosity, and exhaustion as few people would voluntarily endure for any other purpose, except, perhaps, to raise a child . . . . like the rearing of a child, most artistic work is started in a state of hopefulness that fades only when it is too late to turn back.” — Ellen Pall, Corpse de Ballet

“[O]n the whole a detective story has to have if it has not a detective it has to have an ending and my detective story did not have any . . . I was sorry about it because it came so near to being a detective story and it did have a good title.” – Gertude Stein

“Everybody feels as bad as you do: this is just what writing a novel feels like.” — Lev Grossman

“Because the best part of all, the absolutely most delicious part, is finishing it and then doing it over. . . .I rewrite a lot, over and over again, so that it looks like I never did.” –Toni Morrison

“It’s a damn good story.  If you have any comments, write them on the back of a check.” – Erle Stanley Gardner

What are some of your favorite quotes about writing (or working on a long project)?

24 thoughts on “In Good Company

  1. A cardinal principle of good fiction [is]: the theme and the plot of a novel must be integrated — as thoroughly integrated as mind and body or thought and action in a rational view of man.

    The link between the theme and the events of a novel is an element which I call the plot-theme. It is the first step of the translation of an abstract theme into a story, without which the construction of a plot would be impossible. A “plot-theme” is the central conflict or “situation” of a story — a conflict in terms of action, corresponding to the theme and complex enough to create a purposeful progression of events.

    The theme of a novel is the core of its abstract meaning — the plot-theme is the core of its events.

    Ayn Rand

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Cynthia, I think Dorothy Parker’s got it about right!
    I like this one from Octavia E. Butler: “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then you gradually get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I should post all of these on my bulletin board! I’m a big fan of that Nora Ephron quote you mentioned, Cynthia. It used to be in my email signature. There’s also another I love from Nora Roberts (2 Nora’s!),
    but it has a cuss word in it so I can’t repeat it. The crux of it is, Shut up and write! I need to remind myself of that a lot.

    Liked by 4 people

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