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Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy - which many believe goes hand in hand with it - will be dead as well.
When I was 17, I worked in a mentoring program in Harlem designed to improve the community. That's when I first gained an appreciation of the Harlem Renaissance, a time when African-Americans rose to prominence in American culture. For the first time, they were taken seriously as artists, musicians, writers, athletes, and as political thinkers.
You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.
I am conscious of trying to stretch the boundaries of non-fiction writing. It's always surprised me how little attention many non-fiction writers pay to the formal aspects of their work.
Alain de Botton
Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
Whenever there's an opportunity to celebrate the written word and celebrate the folks that read the written word, and, I think, to encourage other writers to write and encourage folks to read more and get connected to it in a personal way, it's a positive thing.
When younger writers and poets, musicians and painters are weakened by a stemming of funds, they come to me saddened, not as full of dreams and excitement and ideas. I am then weakened and diminished, and made less rich.
We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line.
One of the things that I tell beginning writers is this: If you describe a landscape, or a cityscape, or a seascape, always be sure to put a human figure somewhere in the scene. Why? Because readers are human beings, mostly interested in human beings. People are humanists. Most of them are humanists, that is.
Why would a lazy guy become a parent of five? Then again, why would creative people who inherently don't like change and criticism become writers, actors, or comedians? There's something about this process. I joke about it: My kids have made me a better person, and I only need, like, 34 more of them to be a really good guy.
Human nature is not amenable to prediction based on the trends or tendencies prevailing at the time. It is amenable to startling creativity of the kind practiced by great artists, directors, writers, musicians, actors, who know how to touch a chord in humans everywhere.
Sixty percent of all Indians live in urban areas, but nobody's writing about them. They're really an underrepresented population, and the ironic thing is very, very few of those we call Native American writers actually grew up on reservations, and yet most of their work is about reservations.
Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.
As for what's the most challenging aspect of teaching, it's convincing younger writers of the importance of reading widely and passionately.
I have tons of regrets, but I think that's one of the reasons that push people to create things. Out of their angst, their regret, comes the best from artists, painters and writers.
I flew into a small airport surrounded by cornfields and pastures, ready to carry out the two commands my father had written out for me the night before I left Calcutta: Spend two years studying creative writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, then come back home and marry the bridegroom he selected for me from our caste and class.
I was a pretty good fighter. But it was the writers who made me great.
Virginia Woolf said that writers must be androgynous. I'll go a step further. You must be bisexual.
Rita Mae Brown
Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
W. H. Auden
The writer isn't made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.
E. L. Doctorow
A critic is a eunuch working in a harem. He watches it, but he knows he can't do it. Critics very often are failed writers and, like failed priests, they hate religion.
From my close observation of writers... they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.
For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.
When I started at the 'Guardian,' though, I couldn't think of anything we saw eye to eye on, except feminism, and even this would soon be arguable as 'Guardian' writers queued up to drool over Eminem.
This might be one way to start talking about differences between the early postmodern writers of the fifties and sixties and their contemporary descendants.
David Foster Wallace
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.
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