Vladimir Nabokov (b. April 22): “I think like a genius, speak like a child.”

22 Apr

Vladimir Nabokov, born 22 April 1899 and died 2 July 1977, was a Russian-American novelist who was praised for his use of complex and original plots, and clever alliteration and wordplay. Nabokov’s Lolita is his most famous novel. He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times, but never won it. He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer.

Quotes on writing:

  1. I don’t think in any language. I think in images.
  2. The more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.
  3. Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.
  4. Style and structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.
  5. I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, I speak like a child.
  6. A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.
  7. Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.
  8. Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.
  9. Lolita is famous, not me. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.
  10. The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.
  11. Turning one’s novel into a movie script is rather like making a series of sketches for a painting that has long ago been finished and framed.
  12. The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
  13. My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music. My pleasures are the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting.
  14. There is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.


Alistair MacLean (b. April 21): “I’m not a born writer, and I don’t enjoy writing.”

21 Apr


Alistair MacLean (born 21 April 1922, died 2 February 1987) was a Scottish novelist who wrote popular thrillers and adventure stories, including The Guns of Navarone, Force 10 from Navone, and Where Eagles Dare.

Five Quotes:

  1. I am not a novelist, I’m a storyteller. 
  2. I’m not a born writer, and I don’t enjoy writing.
  3. I wrote each book in thirty-five days flat – just to get the darned thing finished.
  4. We are all brave men and we are all afraid, and what the world calls a brave man, he too is brave and afraid like the all rest of us. Only he is brave for five minutes longer.
  5. The point I make is simply that cruelty and hate and intolerance are the monopoly of no particular race or creed or time. They have been with us since the world began and are still with us, in every country in the world.

Joan Miro (b. April 20): “I try to apply colors like words that shape poems.”

20 Apr

“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.” ~ Joan Miro, b. 20 April 1893


Sebastien Faulks (b. April 20): “Everything I know about structure I learned from classical music.”

20 Apr


Sebastian Faulks, born 20 April 1953, is a British novelist, journalist, and broadcaster. He is best known for his historical novels including The Girl at the Lion d’Or, Birdsong, and Charlotte Gray. He has also published a James Bond sequel, Devil May Care. He is a team captain on BBC Radio 4 literary quiz The Write Stuff.

Seven quotes on writing:

  1. I start with the theme and setting, then a rough narrative arc including half a dozen big moments, like the supports in a river over which the bridge spans. Then the people are given to you because they’re the ones capable of acting out what’s required of the action to exemplify the theme.
  2. In the period of composition you have to be exceptionally open. Anything might feed in. The trick is in knowing the difference between a disposable thought and a robust idea. You have to live in a rather vulnerable, open state, while at the same time making hard decisions.
  3. The words themselves are the beginning and end. Too many adverbs is a bad sign. Even when the style is apparently plain it is so for a reason. And within plainness there are a hundred choices for each sentence in rhythm and syntax and of course within each word. Think of Hemingway.
  4. Almost everything I know about structure I learned from classical music. Most of what I know about narrative I took from cinema. I also think of oil painting quite a lot, particularly when I am trying to add layers, to thicken the texture.
  5. Real emotion comes from inside the reader. You’re unaware that the author has been trying to make you feel something; in fact, you wonder whether the author is really aware of how sad, funny or inspiring this passage is. Artificial is when you feel your arm being twisted.
  6. When I’m writing a book I work from ten till six every day in a small office near my house. I never write less than a thousand words a day. Writer’s block is God’s way of telling you to shut up. More people should have it…
  7. Write about what you don’t know. Research, invent. Write about people of other ages, sexes, nationalities and periods in history. Then find a book you think is similar to yours. Write to the author care of the publisher and find out who their agent is. Good luck.


Jayne Mansfield (b. April 19): “Men are creatures with two legs and eight hands.”

19 Apr

“Men are creatures with two legs and eight hands.”

~ Jayne Mansfield, b. 19 April 1933


Conan O’Brien (b. April 18): “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get.”

18 Apr


“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

~ Conan O’Brien, b. 18 April 1963


Thornton Wilder (b. April 17): “An incinerator is a writer’s best friend.”

17 Apr

Thornton Wilder, born 17 April 1897 and died 7 December 1975, was an American playwright and novelist. He won three Pulitzer Prizes—for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and for the two plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth and a U.S. National Book Award for the novel The Eighth Day.

Quotes on writing:

  1. An incinerator is a writer’s best friend.
  2. Literature is the orchestration of platitudes.
  3. If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good.
  4. It would be a very wonderful thing if we could see more and more works that close that gulf between highbrows and lowbrows.
  5. There’s nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.
  6. I write in order to discover on my shelf a new book that I would enjoy reading, or to see a new play that would engross me.
  7. The future author is one who discovers that language, the exploration and manipulation of the resources of language, will serve him in winning through to his way.
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