3 From WD: Quotes on staying sane, avoiding genius, and keeping the business of writing separate from the creativity

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On this WD Mag Wednesday, here’s a (semi-random) quote trio that stuck in my mind after our March/April issue went to bed, followed, of course, by a prompt. And be sure to check back Friday—I’ll be in Chicago doing nerdy things like a Devil in the White City tour, and WD Editor Jessica Strawser will be prompting, so stop in and say hey.


1. “The single wisest thing ever said about creative writing was this, from Elsa Lasker-Schüler: ‘A real poet does not say azure. A real poet says blue.’ Of course Vladimir Nabokov practiced the opposite, and the greatest writer of the last century, Marcel Proust, never walked a straight line in his life. Genius is not only a special case, it is almost always a disastrous influence upon others. I am not saying that one ought not to take risks; there is a sense of daring in every fine story, but the risk is in the depth of psychological truth or the boldness of conception (Aristotle’s example of both is that tale in which a detective discovers the murderer of his father is himself) and not in empty experiments with technique or form.” —Leslie Epstein, from his MFA Insider column “Tips for Writing and for Life”

2. “There is something inside of a person that makes them be a writer in the first place. That’s a strong and true thing. And you can have your head turned very easily by the business of writing. It’s so important to keep it church and state—keep it separate. The process of writing and creating and answering that very unique call inside yourself has nothing to do with agents and sales and all that.” —Elizabeth Berg, from The WD Interview “The Art of Writing True”

(And, that said, when creativity has worked its magic and the act of submitting potentially comes into play—)

3. “I never quit. While I was waiting to hear back on one book, I began writing another. It kept me sane, and it was great to have completed work that I could discuss with a potential agent or editor. It also shows that you’re committed to writing and serious about creating a career.” —Debut novelist Mara Purnhagen, as interviewed in the Breaking In column

(Image: Pixomar)


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