If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.
Writing a good essay isn’t that easy. You can’t do it with a pointing stick. I try to make a point obliquely, adroitly, and whenever possible, with humor. It must always be a surprise. The surprise is what makes people laugh.
The only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.
A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.
When you know what’s important, it’s a lot easier to ignore what’s not.
Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.
Lessons for writers: First, work like a maniac because no one else will do it for you. Second, know that art matters. Next, understand that fiction is about transformation and that change is possible. And, finally, make the surface of writing lively, fun-filled, and funny, even if the characters are in excruciating pain.
We should feel excited about the problems we confront and our ability to deal with them. Solving problems is one of the highest and most sensual of all our brain functions.
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
[Grace Paley] taught me that writing must not be compartmentalized. You don’t step out of the stream of your life to do your work. Work was the life, and who you were as a mother, teacher, friend, citizen, activist, and artist were all the same person. People like to ask me if writing can be taught, and I say yes. I can teach you how to write a better sentence, how to write dialogue, maybe even how to construct a plot. But I can’t teach you how to have something to say.