Great quote from John Irving on writing


I started listening to Trying to Save Piggy Sneed by John Irving over the weekend. It’s a sort of memoir / sort of short story collection from the great writer. I absolutely loved the first passage, because it matches how I view writing so well, so I thought I’d share it.

This is a memoir, but please understand that (to any writer with a good imagination) all memoirs are false. A fiction writer’s memory is an especially imperfect provider of detail; we can always imagine a better detail than the one we can remember. The correct detail is rarely, exactly, what happened; the most truthful detail is what could have happened or what should have. Half my life is an act of revision; more than half the act is performed with small changes. Being a writer is a strenuous marriage between careful observation and just as carefully imagining the truths you haven’t had the opportunity to see. The rest is the necessary, strict toiling with the language; for me this means writing and rewriting the sentences until they sound as spontaneous as good conversation.

– from Trying to Save Piggy Sneed by John Irving


Top 12 Writerly Quotes from the Decatur Book Festival

Quote MarksOnce 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. Continue reading