On writing and rewriting…




Dorothy Parker. Photo from the Internet.


I am circling and recircling the final chapter of my novel-in-progress. It’s been a long time writing, and an even longer time revising and rewriting…

I found solace in these quotations, which may also be of solace to you, fellow writers and makers…

I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.

Truman Capote in Conversations With Capote, by Lawrence Grobel.

It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and write it sentence by sentence–no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I can change seven.

Dorothy Parker, “The Art of Fiction,” The Paris Review Interview, 1956.

I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times–once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say.

Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one’s fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.

Bernard Malamud quoted in The Magic Worlds of Bernard Malamud, by Evelyn Gross Avery.

To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone–just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again and once more, and over and over.

John Hersey, quoted in The Craft of Revision, by Donald Murray.

Whatever your form, whatever the ambition, wherever you may be in your process, good luck and keep going….

2 responses to “On writing and rewriting…

  1. Very nice, Kaite. As you may know, I like quotes about writing, and I LOVE Dorothy Parker quotes on any subject. Just one favorite—this one about aging (while looking in the mirror and spotting some sort of ugly age growth): “What fresh hell is this?”
    Jim S.

  2. Yes, a fan of these quotations too, as you may have gathered with my ‘150 ‘rules’ for writing fiction… and at the moment I can’t really see anything but this closing chapter and so any encouragement form any source is welcomed! I have to say, ‘what fresh hell is this?’ might describe my initial thoughts when I sit down to read the revisions I made the day before… but that’s another story…). Thanks for dropping by and dropping a line.

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