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Today's Terror Level

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Writers Say the Darnedest Things

  • Erasmus
    “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”
  • James Dickey
    “What you have to realize when you write poetry, or if you love poetry, is that poetry is just naturally the greatest god damn thing that ever was in the whole universe”
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    “Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”
  • Jessica Stern
    “I will roar argon into chlorine, xenon into fluorine, all the noble gases into reactive ones My lament will terrify even the stars.”
  • Joan Didion
    “A writer is always selling someone out.”
  • Ann Patchett
    "Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon."
  • John Maynard Keynes
    "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking."
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh
    "What a commentary on our civilization when being alone is considered suspect, when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it - like a secret vice!"
  • Rumi
    "We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust"
  • Kurt Vonnegut
    "There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."
  • Wallace Stephens
    "The poet is the priest of the invisible."
  • Seamus Heaney
    "The paradox of the arts is that they are all made up, but they allow us to get to the reality of who or what we are or might be. It is a mistake to expect them to do too much, but it is a worse mistake to expect them to do too little."
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
    "The only people who should use the Royal We are editors and people with tapeworms."
  • William Saroyan
    "The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough."
  • Amy Tan
    "Story writing is a deliberate derangement of the mind."
  • Martial
    "Someone I flattered in a book/pretends he owes me nothing. Oh the trash I have for friends."
  • Plato
    "Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "Poetry teaches the enormous force of a few words."
  • Mary Oliver
    "Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that."
  • Paul Auster
    "Poetry's a beautiful thing, but it's hardly worth freezing your ass off for."
  • Virginia Woolf
    "Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others."
  • Rainer Maria Rilke
    "Let everything happen to you; beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final."
  • V.S. Naipal
    "It's the secretions of our innermost soul that we present in our books."
  • John Barth
    "In art as in lovemaking, heartfelt ineptitude has appeal, so does heartless skill, but what you want is passionate virtuosity..."
  • Mark Helprin
    "I want to be a prisoner of things that make me stop still.”
  • Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe
    "I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and left the room."
  • E.B. White
    "I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult."
  • Steve Colman
    "I feel all poets should be historians. You can't disconnect this stuff from what's going on around you."
  • Eudora Welty
    "I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them - with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself."
  • John Kenneth Galbraith
    "I am persuaded that most writers, like most shoemakers, are about as good one day as the next (a point which Trollope made), hangovers apart."
  • George Sand
    "Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness."
  • Rumi
    "Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious."
  • Hafiz
    "Ever since Happiness heard your name, she has been running through the streets trying to find you..."
  • Kurt Vonnegut
    "Do you realize that all great literature — Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, A Farewell to Arms, The Scarlet Letter, The Red Badge of Courage, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, the Bible, and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' — are all about what a bummer it is to be a human being?"
  • Neil Gaiman
    "There are people who think that things that happen in fiction do not really happen. These people are wrong."

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