Cool Writing Quotes

Posted: August 29, 2013 in Writing, Writing Philosophy

This semester I’m taking an Intro to Creative Writing class, and in the course syllabus there’s two particularly cool writing quotes that I’d like to share with you all.

The first quote is from “Why a Literate Culture is Important,” by Thea Temple:

Writing and reading literature—real literature—is a courageous act. There are reasons why Nazis burned books and why fundamentalists ban them, why despots imprison their greatest authors, and why whole political organizations spring up to help them escape with their lives. Literature is Public Enemy Number One of simple hate doctrines and government propaganda. Literature seeks, and often tells, the truth, with and without a capital “T.” Literature caters to no one, is impolite, and often politically incorrect. Literature can be compassionate, and it can be cruel, as can life, its source. Literature shines a stark light on all that is beautiful and all that is ugly in the human condition. Literature is civilized precisely because in the safety of our homes, we can remove the clips on ideas dangerous as grenades. The writer’s work is sometimes the work of the prophet, sometimes the confession of a sinner, but it always forces us to see ourselves through others, and, in the process, to “know thyself.”

Literature goes straight to the root of the word “compassion,” which literally means, “shared pain.” Sharing another’s pain not only heals, but it can prevent injury in the first place.

Before I move on to the second quote, I would like to comment a bit on this part of the quote: “Literature seeks, and often tells, the truth, with and without a capital ‘T.'”.

For a while now I have had “Veritas ex fabulatis” as the tagline on this website, and I never explained what it is and why it’s there. I meant to, but I never got around to it. Fully explaining what it is and what it means for me will require a separate post, but for now, this is what it means: Veritas ex fabulatis means Truth from Stories. And that is one of my goals when I write anything, but especially fiction: to tell the truth. “What truth?” you may ask. Well, that’s going to have to wait for its own post, because I don’t have the time here to explain the concept.

The second quote is by Donald Hall, in his essay, “Poetry and Ambition:”

True ambition in a poet [You could say the same for any writer. -Scott] seeks fame in the old sense, to make words that live forever. If even to entertain such ambition reveals monstrous egotism, let me argue that the common alternative is petty egotism that spends itself in small competitiveness, that measures its success by quantity of publication, by blurbs on jackets, by small achievement: to be the best poet in the workshop, to be published by Knopf, to win the Pulitzer or the Nobel. . . . The grander goal is to be as good as Dante.

And honestly, that’s another reason why I write. I don’t want to write a book that will be enjoyed today and earn me a comfortable living, only to be forgotten tomorrow. When I write, I want it to be something so good that it will last, that when I am long gone, people will still read my books.

There’s other writing quotes in the Intro to Creative Writing syllabus, and perhaps I’ll share them in the future, but for now, I wanted to share these two. Hope you enjoyed them.

-Scott

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