“I have built my life in such a way that my many side jobs still allow me time to write fiction. No great hand reached down from the sky and made me a writer. I made myself one, by writing. So if this book doesn’t sell, or if it sells and nobody reads it, I’ll write another. And another. And another. Until I write a book that feels truly necessary, that people read not because I want them to, but because it gives them some news about the human heart they can’t get any other way. And then what will I do? That’s easy. I’ll start writing another one.”—Act Two: A Young Playwright Grows Up by Michael Bourne (via millionsmillions)
“As you have it in your power, sir, to do some service to letters, I implore you not to clip the wings of our writers so closely, nor to turn into barn-door fowls those who, allowed a start, might become eagles; reasonable liberty permits the mind to soar — slavery makes it creep.”—Voltaire, born on this day in 1694, on censorship – fantastic 1733 letter to a government official (via explore-blog)
“If it did—if I truly believed that being a corpse was not only a possible future but my only guaranteed future—I’d do all kinds of things differently. I’d get rid of my iPhone, for starters. Lead a different sort of life.”—A thought experiment by Zadie Smith. Full text here.
“But what I like best of all about my matchbox is that it is an empty one.”—"Late-1946, English novelist Sylvia Townsend Warner received a Christmas present from friend and fellow writer, Alyse Gregory, that was to inspire what must surely be one of the most exquisite thank you letters ever written. The gift in question was an empty matchbox” Full text here.
“I believe the need for impartial journalism is greater than it has ever been, because we live now in a world of affinity-based media, where citizens can and do construct echo chambers of their own beliefs. It is altogether too easy to feel “informed” without ever encountering information that challenges our prejudices.”—Bill Keller in a debate with Glen Greenwald. Fabulous. All of it. Both sides.
“[The study] found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence”—"For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov" By Pam Belluck. Full article here.
There is another great danger for the writer, perhaps the greatest one of all: his consciousness of the multiple taboos society has imposed on literature, and his inner censor. … It is surprising how well one writes if one thinks no one will read [the writing].
This honesty, this absence of posturing, is a most fecund source of material. The writer’s task is to overthrow the taboos rather than accept them.
“The best-deserved fate of terrorists and mass killers alike, as well as the most effective deterrent to them, might be that of that Baltimore fugitive in the ’90s — to be forgotten as soon as possible, buried in the unmarked grave of ignominy, just another footnote in dirtbag history.”—Tim Kreider reflects on the war on dirtbags
When I woke up the morning after having unprotected sex with a kind of friend who I have a long history of unprotected sex with, after saying to him, “If I get pregnant and Mitt Romney gets elected, I’m naming this baby Mitt and calling him ‘Mittens,’” I looked at my iPhone app to see if I was in my fertile window. It said I wasn’t, and I didn’t care enough to do any further math on the subject. Also: I was hungover. I went back to sleep.
“Sentience itself is not so much a fact to be taken for granted, but a brick-by-brick, self-built construct requiring constant maintenance. …[The Reason I Jump] goes much further than providing information, however: It offers up proof that locked inside the helpless-seeming autistic body is a mind as curious, subtle, and complex as yours, as mine, as anyone’s. … Both emotional poverty and an aversion to company are not symptoms of autism but consequences of autism, its harsh lockdown on self-expression and society’s near-pristine ignorance about what’s happening inside autistic heads.”—
“If you brought the Sun down to the size of a white blood cell (7 micrometres), and then brought everything else down to scale, our galaxy, the Milky Way, would be the size of the continental U.S.A.”—Source: Tredid on reddit
“Sometimes, while reading something rambling and bad, I’ll wonder to myself: what’s all this even about? It turns out that a lot of writing is mostly written to satisfy the writer, who, for whatever reason, wants to write. The upshot of this is that, in addition to lots of strange and, for lack of a better word, bad writing, there’s also a lot of really interesting, intensely satisfying writing, all of which hangs out in sometimes unexpected places around the Internet, especially in the comments sections of websites like Amazon. So here are three of my favorite well-written reviews. One is a review of a review.”—First came the reviews. Naturally, reviews of these reviews followed. Then, in furtherance of a pattern that was getting pretty weird at this point, somebody wrote a review of review reviews. (via millionsmillions)
“So we are leaving tomorrow and I am more scared going than I am coming. I am not just a romantic, I am a committed one. That is to say, I believe in the importance, not just in feeling things, but in following those feelings through. Should that following lead you to disaster, it can never make you wrong. It can only make you a traveler.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, on leaving Paris. (via theatlantic)