Once again this year, I spent the Labor Day weekend at the Decatur Book Festival – where I always have a great time and learn a ton. This weekend was no different, except this time I decided to keep a pad handy and record my favorite “writerly” quotes from the sessions I attended.
There were many valuable and entertaining talks, but I decided to limit this list to my twelve favorite, so apologies to any authors I left out! You were all inspiring!
In the future, I hope to turn this into a series by writing individual blog posts that dive deeper into the context of each of the quotes. As I do this, I’ll return to this post and add the corresponding links to the more in-depth entries.
For now, I’m just going to present the quotes with links to the websites of the authors I’m quoting. I hope they inspire you as much as they did me.
- “A writer needs three things: experience, observation and imagination, any two of which can supply the lack of the others.” – William Faulkner via Clyde Edgerton
- “Most good fiction is about relationships between people.” – Clyde Edgerton
- “Get two people into your story as quickly as possible.” – Clyde Edgerton
- “All description is narrative and all narrative is description.” – Pamela Schoenewaldt
- “A mystery is where you don’t know who did it and you’re trying to figure it out while a thriller is where you know who did it and you’re trying to stop them from doing it again.” – Geoffrey Girard
- “If you can make people laugh at it, you can get through a lot of decapitations.” – Richard Kadrey
- “If you visit a nursing home, you will see seven things that break your heart. But if you stick around long enough, something will always make you laugh.” – Jill McCorkle
- “In life we don’t have the luxury of separating the sad parts from the uplifting ones. They happen concurrently. The same is true in fiction. It’s like a layered piece of music with overlapping tracks.” – Jennifer Haigh
- “Don’t think too much, because you’ll never be as smart as your subconscious.” – Jill McCorkle
- “I don’t believe men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Really, we’re all just from Earth. Human experience is understandable by other humans.” – Jennifer Haigh
- “Writing your first novel is like running your first marathon. You’re not trying to win. You just don’t want to die while you’re doing it.” – Jennifer Haigh
- “You can fix anything but a blank page.” – Nora Roberts via Wendy Wax
BONUS: My favorite T-shirt from the conference was one where the following was emblazoned in bold letters across the front: “Holden Caulfield thinks you’re a phony!”