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25 Most Galvanizing Quotes on Writing and Language


I once told my husband that I wanted to be buried with this notebook. It's my word collection. I keep it next to my bed for when I read, in case I find a penned line that grabs me (for example, in Don DeLillo's book about a 9/11 survivor, Falling Man: "If I live to be a hundred I'll still be on the stairs." I also grab poetry- a favorite line, or sometimes short poems. I have a lot of Atwood in there. And WS Merwin.

I go to my notebook and read it like a book sometimes. It's small, spiral ringed, with a cardboard cover that I got as a freebie from an About.com training. It's mostly white, except for the shiny, bright About.com logo. On the outside I've penned a quote from Sage Cohen's book Writing the Life Poetic: "I wanna know how far words can go."

I associate the whiteness with the unused pages inside- the promise of future pleasure reading, or just the pleasure of stumbling on to a set of words that is placed just so, so perfectly and beautifully that you have to capture them for later enjoyment.

I hope you get as much pleasure out of these quotes as I have. These are the twenty-five "best" quotes on writing and language.

1. Stephen King

Used under Creative Commons license from soartsyithurts via Flickr
“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” (From "Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully in Ten Minutes")

2. William Faulkner

“No man can write who is not first a humanitarian.”

3. Ferenc Molnar

“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.” (Recently attributed to Virginia Woolf, but not substantiated.)

4. June Jordan

"These words/they are stones in the water" (From "These Poems")

5. Margaret Atwood

"A word after a word/after a word is power." (From "Spelling")

6. Ernest J. Gaines

"You don't love anybody else but your writing. You're married to it. You have to have the kind of ego to believe that you have something to say that no one else can say. You will not let anything in the world get in the way of it."

7. Ernest Hemingway

"Write drunk; edit sober."

8. Michael Blumenthal

"If you are terrified of your own death,/and want to escape from it,/you may want to write a poem,/for the poem might carry your name into eternity/" (From "The Difference Between a Child and a Poem")

9. Shanna Germain

“No, these stories are not true. But they are the truth of what I’m working on now.” (Shanna Germain's Site)

10. Somerset Maugham

"We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to."
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