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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.
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.
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.
World War II is the greatest drama in human history, the biggest war ever and a true battle of good and evil. I imagine writers will continue to get stories from it, and readers will continue to love them, for many more years.
The paradox of modernism is, writers make the decision to work with the continuous present, and to work with... stream of consciousness, as it's called, for emotional reasons, and the main emotional reason is verisimilitude. I mean, this is what surprises people: Life is not in the simple past.
Some writers like to boil down headlines of liberal newspapers into fiction, so they say there shouldn't be communal riots, everybody should love each other, there shouldn't be boundaries or fundamentalism. But I think literature is more than that; these are political views which most of us hold anyway.
Artists - musicians, painters, writers, poets - always seem to have had the most accurate perception of what is really going on around them, not the official version or the popular perception of contemporary life.
Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.
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.
Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
W. H. Auden
They're naughty, all those writers - they mess around with people. I know James Gandolfini got a bit fed up on 'The Sopranos': if he said anything in front of a writer, told them a story from his life, it could make its way into the script.
I agree with Balzac and 19th-century writers, black and white, who say, 'I write for money.' Yes, I think everybody should be paid handsomely; I insist on it, and I pay people who work for me, or with me, handsomely.
The writers that I aspire to, like Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman, they'll tell you that the work gets harder, not easier. And they set that bar for us where we're always striving to do something better than the last time, whether it's the next song or just the next line.
Some writers take to drink, others take to audiences.
The notion of the Internet as a force of political and social revolution is not a new one. As far back as the early 1990s, in the early days of the World Wide Web, there were technologists and writers arguing forcefully that the Internet was destined to become the most important tool for cultural change in human history.
We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line.
Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.
The fact is that all writers create their precursors. Their work modifies our conception of the past, just as it is bound to modify the future.
Jorge Luis Borges
I look for strong people. I don't like people who'll say yes to everything I might bring up. I want people who can argue and disagree and have a point of view that's reflected in the magazine. My dad believed in the cult of personality. He brought great writers and columnists to 'The Standard.'
On Memorial Day, I don't want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live.
If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.
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.
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.
There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized or even cured. The only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private and where food can be poked in to him with a stick.
Robert A. Heinlein
My teacher Tom Spanbauer, the man who got me started writing in his workshop, used to say: 'Writers write because they weren't invited to a party.' That always struck so true, and people always nod their heads when they hear that. Especially writers.
John F. Kennedy
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