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- If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?
- "Petrified Man", 1941
- A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.
- Write about what you don't know about what you know.
- Life is lived in a private place; Where it means anything is inside the mind and heart.
- The story and its analyses are not mirror-opposites of each other. They are not reflections, either one. Criticism indeed is an art, as a story is, but only the story is to some degree a vision; there is no explanation outside fiction for what the writer is learning to do.
- I am a writer who came from a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.
- All serious daring starts from within.
- Since we must and do write each our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another's work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to, and to ask: is it valid?
- The first act of insight is throw away the labels. In fiction, while we do not necessarily write about ourselves, we write out of ourselves, using ourselves; what we learn from, what we are sensitive to, what we feel strongly about--these become our characters and go to make our plots. Characters in fiction are conceived from within, and they have, accordingly, their own interior life; they are individuals every time.
- The novelist works neither to correct nor to condone, not at all to comfort, but to make what's told alive.
- Great fiction shows us not how to conduct our behavior but how to feel. Eventually, it may show us how to face our feelings and face our actions and to have new inklings about what they mean. A good novel of any year can initiate us into our own new experience.
- Every writer, like everybody else, thinks he's living through the crisis of the ages. To write honestly and with all our powers is the least we can do, and the most.
- Making reality real is art's responsibility. It is a practical assignment, then, a self-assignment: to achieve, by a cultivated sensitivity for observing life, a capacity for receiving impressions, a lonely, unremitting, unaided, unaidable vision, and transferring this vision without distortion to it onto the pages of a novel, where, if the reader is so persuaded, it will turn into the reader's illusion.
- Human life is fiction's only theme.
One Writer's Beginnings
One Writer's Beginnings, by Eudora Welty
- Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.
- All experience is an enrichment rather than an impoverishment.
- It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they come from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them -- with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.
The Optimist's Daughter
The Optimist's Daughter, by Eudroa Welty
- Laurel could not see her face but only the back of her neck, the most vulnerable part of anybody, and she thought: Is there any sleeping person you can be entirely sure you have not misjudged?