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Long before the idea of a writer's conference was a glimmer in anyone's eye, writers learned by reading the work of their predecessors. They studied meter with Ovid, plot construction with Homer, comedy with Aristophanes; they honed their prose style by absorbing the lucid sentences of Montaigne and Samuel Johnson.
I can no more reread my own books than I can watch old home movies or look at snapshots of myself as a child. I wind up sitting on the floor, paralyzed by grief and nostalgia.
'One Hundred Years of Solitude' convinced me to drop out of Harvard graduate school. The novel reminded me of everything my Ph.D. program was trying to make me forget. Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I'm in a rage all of the time.
For any writer, the ability to look at a sentence and see what's superfluous, what can be altered, revised, expanded, and, especially, cut, is essential. It's satisfying to see that sentence shrink, snap into place, and ultimately emerge in a more polished form: clear, economical, sharp.
I know a lot of Eastern Europeans, and because of what they have been through and what they have seen, they have an attitude where they are not easily fooled.
Fact-checking is so boring compared to writing fiction.
I think of myself as someone with a kind of Tourette's. I cannot help saying the thing you're not supposed to say.
I think poets are much more dramatic, more theatrical than fiction writers.
A lot of girls who turn into something remarkable start off as irrepressible, confident and a handful.
A work of art can start you thinking about some aesthetic or philosophical problem; it can suggest some new method, some fresh approach to fiction.
I work really long days and I work seven day weeks.
I wrote about four novels before I wrote a word of journalism.
Of course, I've always read. I started when I was four years old and just didn't stop. I read all the time.
I remember, when I was a little kid, I was good at sports, and I could jump off the high board. And then puberty hit, and suddenly I was looking to boys for direction. I remember that as a great loss.
I went through college in the 1960s without having any idea that I was going to have to make a living. When I graduated in 1968 it was quite a shock to find out that there was a world out there and that it wasn't going to support me.
If things are going well I can easily spend twelve hours a day writing, but not writing writing, just thinking and revising and taking a comma out and putting it back in.
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Robert A. Heinlein
H. L. Mencken
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