Quotational Goodness…

“Everything I have written up to now is trifling compared to that which I would like to write
and would write with great pleasure…Either I am a fool and a self-conceited person, or I
am a being capable of becoming a good writer; I am displeased and bored with everything
now being written, while everything in my head interests, moves, and excites me—whence
I draw the conclusion that no one is doing what is needed, and I alone know the secret of
how it should be done. In all likelihood everyone who writes thinks that. In fact, the devil
himself will be brought to his knees by these questions.”
–Anton Chekhov

“The worker in an art is dyed in his own color. It is useless to ask him to change his faults or
his virtues; he must, rather more literally than most men, work out his own salvation.”
— Katherine Anne Porter

“However, life experience doesn’t confirm anything. In belles lettres, as in music, experience is
a secondary matter. The material at the disposal of a given branch of art has its own
irrefutable, linear dynamic. That is why the explosive charge flies, if I can express myself
metaphorically, as far as the material –not experience—dictates. Everyone has more or less the
same experience. . . . Experience, life, the body, biography –at best, they absorb the recoil. The
charge is sent far into the distance by the dynamic of the material.”
–Joseph Brodsky

“Every writing career starts as a personal quest for sainthood, for self-betterment. Sooner or
later, and as a rule quite soon, a man discovers that his pen accomplishes a lot more than his
soul. This discovery very often creates an unbearable schism within an individual and is, in
part, responsible for the demonic reputation literature enjoys in certain witless quarters.
Basically, its just as well, for the seraphim’s loss nearly always is the mortal’s gain.”

–Joseph Brodsky

“The best of them are realistic and paint life as it is, but because every line is permeated, as
with a juice, by awareness of a purpose, you feel, besides life as it is, also life as it ought to be,
and this captivates you.”
–Anton Chekhov

“All good cornerman think of themselves as masters of the psyche. They are Freudians.
Atlas is just more so. He is convinced that boxing is, in large measure, psychological, that
the loser is the fighter who lies to himself, who finds ways to rationalize his passivity and
makes a “silent contract” with his opponent: I won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt me. They
clutch and grab and back up, and while they may think they’re being clever they are really
signing the contract.”
–David Remnick, “Teddy Atlas: Cornerman”

“It’s the pressure, that dome of pressure that the civilian can’t quite comprehend, he said.
“Nature, everyone’s nature, is to avoid what’s gonna bring you closer to danger and risk.
The reason he didn’t throw those extra punches, no matter how much he listened and
nodded yes to me, was because he allowed his weaker nature to tell him, You don’t have to do this. The basis of nature is to survive. What I’m telling him is against nature. I’m telling
him how to be a brute and not just survive. A trainer’s got to lead a fighter into a dark place,
and not too many want to go.”
–David Remnick, “Teddy Atlas: Cornerman”

“What personal problems are worked out in stories must be unconscious. My
preoccupations are technical. My preoccupation is how am I going to get this bull’s horns
into this woman’s ribs. Of course why his horns belong in her ribs is something more
fundamental but I can’t say I give it much thought. Perhaps you are able to see things in
these stories that I can’t see because if I did see I would be too frightened to write them. I
have always insisted that there is a fine grain of stupidity required in the fiction writer.”
–Flannery O’Connor

“Talent, even of a very high order, cannot sustain an achievement, whereas a ruling passion
gives to a shelf of novels the unity of a system.”
–Graham Greene

“A writer writes about what he is able to make believable.”
–Flannery O’Connor

“Making reality real is art’s responsibility.”
–Eudora Welty

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