Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetuate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscript to press: Murder your darlings.
Whenever we give our pen some free will, we may surprise ourselves. All that wanting to seem normal in real life, all that fitting in falls away in the face of one’s own strange self on the page. … Writing or making anything – a poem, a bird feeder, a chocolate cake – has self-respect in it. You’re working. You’re trying. You’re not lying down on the ground, having given up.
Mystery is not the absence of meaning, but the presence of more meaning than we can comprehend.
I was sure that I was going to write stories myself when I grew up. It’s important to put it like that: not ‘I am a writer,’ but rather ‘I write stories.’ If you put the emphasis on yourself rather than your work, you’re in danger of thinking that you’re the most important thing. But you’re not. The story is what matters, and you’re only the servant, and your job is to get it out on time and in good order.
Don’t write about what you know – write about what you’re interested in. Don’t write about yourself – you aren’t as interesting as you think.
I have never had illusions about the value of my individual contribution! I realized early that what a man or woman does is built on what those who have gone before have done, that its real value depends on making the matter in hand a little clearer, a little sounder for those who come after. Nobody begins or ends anything. Each person is a link, weak or strong, in an endless chain. One of our gravest mistakes is persuading ourselves that nobody has passed this way before.
The central function of imaginative literature is to make you realize that other people act on moral convictions different from your own.
We read books to find out who we are.