Any time four New Yorkers

Any time four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.

Johnny Carson

Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.

Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.

A blazing sun upon a fierce August day was no greater rarity in southern France then, than at any other time, before or since. Every thing in Marseilles, and about Marseilles, had stared at the fervid sky, and been stared at in return, until a staring habit had become universal there. Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring white houses, staring white walls, staring white streets, staring tracts of arid road, staring hills from which verdure was burnt away. The only things to be seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the vines drooping under their loads of grapes. These did occasionally wink a little, as the hot air barely moved their faint leaves.

Opening lines from Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

We must be careful to make a distinction

We must be careful to make a distinction between the intellectual and the person of intellectual achievement. They two are very, very different animals. There are people of intellectual achievement who increase the sum of human knowledge, the powers of human insight, and analysis. And then there are the intellectuals. An intellectual is a person knowledgeable in one field who speaks out only in others.

Tom Wolfe

Who will consider that no dictionary of a living tongue ever can be perfect

Who will consider that no dictionary of a living tongue ever can be perfect, since, while it is hastening to publication, some words are budding, and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be spent upon syntax and etymology, and that even a whole life would not be sufficient; that he, whose design includes whatever language can express, must often speak of what he does not understand.

Samuel Johnson

I don’t believe any of you have ever read Paradise Lost

I don’t believe any of you have ever read Paradise Lost, and you don’t want to. That’s something that you just want to take on trust. It’s a classic … something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

Mark Twain

There is a theory

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

Douglas Adams, first line from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

No one would have believed

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.

H. G. Wells, first lines of The War of the Worlds

That is part of the beauty of all literature

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

There’s no way round it

There’s no way round it, I’m finding it very hard to be a widow, I told Grief, the counsellor woman, that Tuesday morning.

Malarky by Anakana Schofield

Separately, suddenly

Separately, suddenly, Clive and Viv remember the smell of pine trees.

Love and the Mess We’re In by Stephen Marche

Air this thin

Air this thin turns anyone into a mystic.

Every Lost Country by Steven Heighton

New York City

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion…no, make that: he – he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yeah. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.’

Uh, no let me start this over.

Chapter 1.
He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street-smart guys who seemed to know all the angles…’.

Ah, corny, too corny for my taste. Can we … can we try and make it more profound?

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City. For him, it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in…’

No, that’s going to be too preachy. I mean, you know, let’s face it, I want to sell some books here.

Chapter 1.
He adored New York City, although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage…’

Too angry, I don’t want to be angry.

Chapter 1.
He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.’

I love this.

‘New York was his town, and it always would be.”

Woody Allen

The self-addressed stamped envelope

The self-addressed stamped envelope. The representation of everything that was wrong with the old publishing industry.

Alexei Maxim Russell

A green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.

“If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,” said Gatsby. “You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.”

Daisy put her arm through his abruptly but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Helpful Writing Advice from the Pros

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” — Somerset Maugham

“Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.” — Truman Capote

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” — Doris Lessing

. . . .

“A bad review may spoil your breakfast, but you shouldn’t allow it to spoil your lunch.”— Kingsley Amis

. . . .

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” — Ray Bradbury

. . . .

“The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot.” — E. M. Forster

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

Enjoying success

Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.

Nolan Ryan

Education is not confined to books

Education is not confined to books, and the finest characters often graduate from no college, but make experience their master, and life their book. [Some care] only for the mental culture, and [are] in danger of over-studying, under the delusion . . . that learning must be had at all costs, forgetting that health and real wisdom are better.

Louisa May Alcott

Typography

90 percent of design is typography. And the other 90 percent is whitespace.

Jeffrey Zeldman


I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

Anne Lamott

The more social media we have

The more social media we have, the more we think we’re connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other.

JR

Regulation

The reality is regulation often lags behind innovation.

Bill Maris

It seems to me we can never give up longing

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.

George Eliot

A villain must be a thing of power

A villain must be a thing of power, handled with delicacy and grace. He must be wicked enough to excite our aversion, strong enough to arouse our fear, human enough to awaken some transient gleam of sympathy. We must triumph in his downfall, yet not barbarously nor with contempt, and the close of his career must be in harmony with all its previous development.

Agnes Repplier

When you fall in love

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your root was so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion.

That is just being in love, which any fool can do.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

Publishing a volume of verse

Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.

Don Marquis

Time is free

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.

Harvey Mackay

Burnout

Burnout is grist to the mill. I write every day, for most of the day, so it’s just about turning into metaphor whatever’s going on in my life, in the world, and in my head. Every nightmare, every moment of grief or joy or failure, is a moment I can convert into cash via words.

Grant Morrison

We are such stuff

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

And therefore education at the University

And therefore education at the University mostly worked by the age-old method of putting a lot of young people in the vicinity of a lot of books and hoping that something would pass from one to the other, while the actual young people put themselves in the vicinity of inns and taverns for exactly the same reason.

Terry Pratchett

Books are everywhere

Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.

Virginia Woolf

You must be

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

A little second person by Mahatma Gandhi

Hubris

It’s hubris to think that the way we see things is everything there is.

Lisa Randall

The enterprise that does not innovate

The enterprise that does not innovate ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present, the decline will be fast.

Peter Drucker

Thanksgiving has wings

Be grateful in your own hearts. That suffices. Thanksgiving has wings, and flies to its right destination.

Victor Hugo

Gratitude can transform common days

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

William Arthur Ward

Gratitude

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: It must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.

William Faulkner

Appreciation

Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

Voltaire

Reflect

Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

Charles Dickens

I awoke this morning

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Talent

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

John Wooden

Holy Men

Holy men tell us life is a mystery.
They embrace that concept happily.
But some mysteries bite and bark
and come to get you in the dark.

Dean Koontz

The Mystery Story

The mystery story is two stories in one: the story of what happened and the story of what appeared to happen.

Mary Roberts Rinehart