Inspirational Quotes

As I read books on writers and writing, I often find passages that explain, advise, or inspire me.  I’d like to share this ever-growing list of gems with you and hope you may find them useful.  (The quotes are currently organized so that the most recent quote is at the top.)

And one and all, [the angry letters regarding Asimov’s negative review of the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind] came down to the same plaintive cry, “Why do you criticize its lack of science, Dr. Asimov? It’s just science fiction.”

God, how that stings! I’ve spent a lifetime loving science fiction and now I find that you must expect nothing of something that’s just science fiction.

It’s just science fiction so it’s allowed to be silly, and childish, and stupid. It’s just science fiction, so it doesn’t have to make sense. It’s just science fiction, so you must ask nothing more of it than loud noises and flashing lights.

That’s the harm of Close Encounters: that it convinces tens of millions that that’s what just science fiction is.

— Isaac Asimov, “The Reluctant Critic,” page 173 of Magic: The Final Fantasy Collection

To be honest, I have trouble with ‘escapism’ full stop. It’s usually a derogatory term. Or condescending. At best, cute. Is the person who goes upstairs for a couple of hours a week to write a never-published work, or watch Star Trek, or play with a train set, actually escaping? It makes the pastime, whether it’s a hobby or a job, seem tiny and silly, when it’s a vital part of your life. …Writing is actually my way of engaging with the world, not escaping from it. I meet someone, I see something, and I’m breaking it all down into dialogue and story and rhythms. But that doesn’t mean I’m escaping.

…The very word ‘fiction’ implies another world, literally a different place, whereas no one claims that a dedicated sportsman is escaping his life, or a chef or a nurse. But the poor writer — the sci-fi one especially — is seen as running away. Bollocks. This is real, for me, and it’s tough, it’s fun, it’s practical, and it’s very, very important.

— Russell T. Davies in an e-mail to Benjamin Cook on Sept. 4, 2007, from page 250 of Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale

What really matters is not how well a character fits a definition, but how strongly he or she resonates.  Characters with strong, resonant ideas at their core will have more of an impact on the cultural consciousness than a character who’s just an empty collection of attributes.

— Kurt Busiek, “The Importance of Context: Robin Hood Is Out and Buffy Is In,” from page 138 of What Is A Superhero?

In general, though, there’s no point in writing hopeless novels.  We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.

— Anne Lamott, page 51 of Bird by Bird

If you studied stories long enough, you almost started to believe in plot, to expect your life would progress in a sequential order of events fitted neatly on a straight and narrow timeline.  But childhood was not some point in history several miles of black line behind.  Childhood was the kernel around which my adult self had been collaged.  To age was not to mature but to accumulate.  Achievements, expectations, experiences, disappointments–badges applied thin and too early lacquered in place, a mishmash of cheap decoupage.  But under the miscellany–the adult I had made of myself–the original self would not be suppressed  she was as close and immutable and necessary as the muscle beating resolutely within my chest.  And she wanted the same thing, always.

— Bethany Pierce, page 292 of Amy Inspired

As a writer, I find holidays often disturbing, not liberating, in their disruption of tempo, their open-ended time.

— Julia Cameron, page 197 of The Right to Write

Writing responds well to some gentle scheduling.  A day job not only promotes solvency, it promotes creativity as well.

— Julia Cameron, page 197 of The Right to Write

We talk about self-expression but need to pause and remember that self-expression requires a self to express…

— Julia Cameron, page 147 of The Right to Write

When people talk about “discipline,” they are really talking about “how do you get past ‘I’m afraid.'”

— Julia Cameron, page 89 of The Right to Write

Our modern ideas of ‘functioning’ through things are really quite inhuman.  We have this idea that no matter what is going on we still have to color between the lines, act normal.

— Julia Cameron, page 82 of The Right to Write

“I am due at the page.” 

— Julia Cameron, The Right to Write.  (Say this whenever drama rears its ugly head.)

I am what I am again: a writer.  I have metabolized the injury into art.

— Julia Cameron, page 31 of The Right to Write

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