Doris Lessing (b. October 22): “We’re always just a step away from lunacy” & other quotes on writing

22 Oct

Doris Lessing (born 22 October 1919, died 17 November 2013) was a British novelist, poet, playwright, biographer and short story writer. She was born in Persia and spent her childhood and early adulthood in South Africa before settling in London. She wrote more than 40 books of fiction and non-fiction, including science-fiction novels and two autobiographical books. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, the 11th woman and the oldest person ever to receive the prize. 

Quotes on writing:

  1. In the writing process, the more a story cooks, the better. 
  2. Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.
  3. I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach that writing is hard work, and that you have to give up a great deal of your personal life to be a writer. 
  4. You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can’t be a way of life – the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.
  5. Ask any modern storyteller and they’ll say there’s always a moment when they’re touched with fire, with what we like to call inspiration, and this goes back to the beginning of our race, to fire and ice and the great winds that shaped us and our world.
  6. As you start to write, the questions begin: Why do you remember this and not that? Why remember in every detail a whole week, month, a long ago year, but then a complete blank? How do you know that what you remember is more important than what you don’t?
  7. I’m very unhappy when I’m not writing. I need to write. I think it’s possibly some kind of psychological balancing mechanism – but that’s not only true for writers … anybody. I think that we’re always … just a step away from lunacy anyway, and we need something to keep us balanced.

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