If you can’t look a line of dialogue in the face and say exactly why it’s there—take it out
or change it.
Character, I think, is the single most important thing in fiction. You might read a book once for its
interesting plot—but not twice.
Don’t go overboard in avoiding “said.” Basically, “said” is the default for dialogue, and a good thing, too;
it’s an invisible word that doesn’t draw attention to itself.
Pointing out the emotion in a scene is like laughing at your own jokes.
Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.
I don't know a better preparation for life than a love of poetry and a good digestion.
Writing is making sense of life.
Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.
I shut my eyes in order to see.
It’s hard to wring my hands when I am busy rolling up my sleeves.
There is no other time like now. We should be thankful, for creation did not make weak spirits to live during this time.
Humanity must shift from living "on" the earth, to living with her.
'Therefore’ is a word the poet must not know.
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.
What is creative living? Any life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear.
We live at the level of our language. Whatever we can articulate we can imagine or explore.
To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.
Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.
Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.
Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.
Art offers a sanctuary to everyone willing to open their hearts as well as their eyes.
I don't think I will ever write about politics or foreign policy. I feel like there is so much good writing in those areas that I have little to add. I also like to steer clear of writing about people whom I do not personally like.
Writing is the hammer & chisel that breaks down the established way of thinking. A concrete event, then an abstraction. An image, then a thought. Finally, writing builds another establishment with the fragments.
Poetry examines an emotional truth. It's an experience filtered through the personality of the poet. We look to poetry for visions, not scientific truths. The poet's job is to combine new elements. Explore their melting, seeping into one another.
Poetry saves what is human in this world going gaudy & insane. In exploring small truths, something larger might turn up, adding dimension, insight, vision, recognition to our lives. We just might be more complete, more aware after a poem.
Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people) are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless. The creative person is flexible; he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.
Writers live twice.
Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about.
Be willing to be split open.
If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another.
I can’t help it if men can’t keep up with me.
I love everything that's old,—old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.
Hope is such a bait, it covers any hook.
Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.
Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.
People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after.
Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.
However thoroughly we lose ourselves in the vortex of our invention, we inhabit a corporeal world.
Poetry describes, enacts, is compelled by those moments of supreme passion, insight, or knowledge that are physical yet intuitive, that render us whole, inspired. Among verbal events—which by their nature move horizontally, through time, along the lines of cause and effect—poetry tends to leap, to try to move more vertically: astonishment, rapture, vertigo—the seduction of the infinite and the abyss—what so much of it is after.
To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.
There is no such thing as good writing. Only good rewriting.
Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig.
It’s quite courageous to live with an open heart.
Good writing gives energy, whatever it is about.
I mean why shouldn’t white and gray be an opposite pair; or take one color and allow an infinite splitting off. Such opposites, such contradictions, create energy in a poem.
For the writer, the idea is to look for repetition in a draft and see how to make the most of that repetition in the closure: moving with or against the reader’s expectations. One can see this played out formally in sonnets, for example.
Poems must be moving.
We have to give ourselves permission to trick ourselves. I am not trying to write a poem, I am trying to get to some raw material which will become a poem. And that’s what’s fun about form. It feels like an exercise, and then you can figure out where the poem is in that exercise, in that draft. Getting to my raw material is what I’m most interested in.
Nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else.
Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art.
If you do not answer the noise and urgency of your gifts, they will turn on you. Or drag you down with their immense sadness at being abandoned.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their families, their histories too. Talk to them, listen to them. They are alive poems.
True power does not amass through the pain and suffering of others.
Age is not important unless you're a cheese.
My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.
The expert at anything was once a beginner.
If you rest you rust.
Only the poet can look beyond the detail and see the whole picture.
If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way.
Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.
All bad writers are in love with the epic.
As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.
In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better.
Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.
Courage is grace under pressure.
There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.
Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.
I’m proud to be a funny poet. Humor in poetry is even better than beauty. If you could have it all, you would, but humor is better than beauty because it doesn’t put people to sleep. It wakes them up and relaxes them at the same time.
Books may well be the only true magic.
I always felt and still feel that fairy tales have an emotional truth that is so deep that there are few things that really rival them.
All the characters in my books are imagined, but all have a bit of who I am in them--much like the characters in your dreams are all formed by who you are.
After a while, the characters I'm writing begin to feel real to me. That's when I know I'm heading in the right direction.
Even in times when it's difficult to figure out, how do you go forward, art--and books--always help.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
John Andrew Holmes
Speech is conveniently located between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both.
Good sense is both the first principal and the parent source of good writing.
It seems to me now that the plain state of being human is dramatic enough for anyone; you don't need to be a heroin addict or a performance poet to experience extremity.
A. E. Housman
Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out . . . Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.
Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.
Words really do matter. As a designer and artist, I’m interested in both the formal and semantic qualities of language.
I view improvising as a practice: when you have an idea you’d like to try, even if you think you’ll be terrible at it, or that it will be a failure, ask yourself why not? and try it. If possible, suspend the inhibiting idea of doing things perfectly. If you are afraid of people judging you, work in private at first, but do it, take the step to see what happens if you try out your idea. Just doing that much is liberating. With practice, it gets easier and easier, and then there’s no way you cannot continue, because it is thrilling and incredibly illuminating.
Grammar and logic free language from being at the mercy of the tone of voice. Grammar protects us against misunderstanding the sound of an uttered name; logic protects us against what we say have double meaning.
Creativity gives rise to the limited out of the unlimited, to sanity out of madness, to the valuable out of the priceless, to abundance out of nothingness, to the original out of the familiar, and to hope out of despair.
The first sign of disintegration — in a writer — is that the writing loses the unique stamp of his/her character, & loses its inner light.
Zora Neale Hurston
There are years that ask questions and years that answer.
No matter how far a person can go, the horizon is still way beyond you.
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.
I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.
I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands.
Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.
Gods always behave like the people who make them.
Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Moon in Oregon City, OR
Photo by Mary Christine Delea