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  • Mark Pomeroy

Words on Writing, Part Three


I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.

— Harper Lee

Stay hard. Stay hungry. Stay alive. And when you walk onstage tonight to bring the noise, treat it like it’s all you have.

— Bruce Springsteen, from his keynote speech at the 2012 South by Southwest music conference, to an audience of many young musicians

Tell me, what is it you plan to do/With your one wild and precious life?

— Mary Oliver

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

— Maya Angelou

Don’t feel responsible for how people misuse your work. Whatever you do can be used against you and probably will be. Keep writing. You’re on earth to write, not to indulge yourself in petty squabbles justifying yourself to pissants.

— Rita Mae Brown

True art is too complex to reflect the party line. Art that tries hard to tell the truth unretouched is difficult and often offensive. It tears down our heroes and heart-warming convictions, violates canons of politeness and humane compromise.

— John Gardner

Artistic growth is, more than anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.

— Willa Cather

False feelings are a slap in the face of grace.

— Lu Chi

Failure’s hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever.

— Po Bronson

Negative Capability: When a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.

— John Keats

Your triggering subjects are those that ignite your need for words. When you are honest to your feelings, that triggering town chooses you. Your words used your way will generate your meanings. Your obsessions lead you to your vocabulary. Your way of writing locates, even creates, your inner life.

— Richard Hugo

Sometimes you have to go through something. If you really are built for it and it’s really what you want, there’s nothing wrong with adversity.

— Damian Lillard

Fanaticism and dedication and doggedness and stubbornness are your angels. They keep the demon of discouragement at bay.

— Charles Baxter

Run with patience toward your goal.

— Grant High School (N.E. Portland, OR) reader board, 9/15/06

What’s writing really about? It’s about trying to take fuller possession of the reality of your life.

— Ted Hughes


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