Category Archives: inspiration

What It’s Like

“A good writer needs to know what it’s like, and ‘it’ can be just about anything. We have far too many writers today who have never ridden a horse, or fired a gun, or sharpened a knife, or fought with their fists, or been shot at. And so on and so on. They are like those professors who get a Ph.D. and a job teaching. Clearly nobody can try everything, but it’s possible to try a lot. I’ve sailed on a small boat, for example.  Also a troopship, and a luxury liner.  I’ve been a waiter, worked in a factory, and flown in a light plane. (No, I was not the pilot, but I wish I had been.)”

Gene Wolfe

Being Great

“From the beginning, all I’ve ever cared about is things being great. I never cared about when they were done. Because I also feel like I want the music to last forever. And once you release it, you can’t go back and fix it, so you really have to get it right. And that takes time.”

Rick Rubin

Be Bold

Be contemporary. Have impact. Strive for it. Be of the world. Move it. Be bold, don’t hold back. Then the moment you think you’ve been bold, be bolder. We are all alive today, ever so briefly here now, not then, not ago, not in some dreamworld of a hypothetical future. Whatever you do, you must make it contemporary. Make it matter now. You must give us a new path to tread, even if it carries the footfalls of old soles. You must not be immune to the weird urgency of today.

Ian Bogost, who’s addressing graduate students here, but whose advice, I think,   has broad applicability

Focus

The one thing I am trying to do in my ‘real’ life is simplify. There are really only a handful of things I care about, so I’m trying to minimise the distractions associated with the other things. It’s basically: family, writing, teaching.

George Saunders

(Via Alan Jacobs.)

Be a Strange Duck

I can build a motorcycle, I can fly a model airplane, I can throw somebody out of a bar, I can wrestle a pig and I can program a computer. I’m a strange duck, that’s for sure.

Iowa pig farmer Carl Edgar Blake II

(Via A Continuous Lean.)

Related post: Specialization Is for Insects

Gay Talese’s Office

(Via Ted Gioia.)

Previously: “I Don’t Use Notebooks. I Use Shirt Boards” and Dressed for a Dungeon and The Species of Tailoring Is Threatened by the Outside World

Alone With the Gods

If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.

—Charles Bukowski, Factotum

Writing Is a Business

Writing is a business and should be practiced as such. On days when you think you can’t possibly write a line you do it anyhow.

Henry Denker

Yes and No

Scott Raab: A lot of folks worry that if they aren’t available or don’t say yes, they’ll stop getting asked.
Bill Murray: If you keep saying yes, they’ll stop asking you, too.

(Bill Murray: The ESQ+A.)

Evelyn Waugh Greatly Regrets

(Via Shaun Usher.)

Related post: “Edmund Wilson Regrets…